Office of Accessibility Resources & Services

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Preparing Materials

Preparing web content requires knowing what to use when. Thankfully, several groups like UNCG’s IOC, WebAIM, and the W3C have provide resources that can be used for online materials. That said, while these and other guidelines cover a wide range of issues, they are not able to address the needs of all people with varying types, degrees, and combinations of disability.

In this section we’ll review general accessibility guidelines as well as specific suggestions for individual assets and applications you might use with your online course content.

General Guidelines

Component Guideline Why is this important?
Headings Use properly formatted headings to structure a page. Headings help to organize content, making it easier for everyone to read. Headings are also a primary way for people using screen reading software to navigate a page of text.


Lists Format lists as proper lists.


Formatting is conveyed to assistive technologies and mobile devices so they can present information as it’s meant to be presented. Properly formatted documents are more understandable and accessible.


Links Write meaningful link text. Links embedded in text should describe the link’s destination. This helps all users navigate more efficiently, especially screen reader users.


Tables Create tables with column and/or row headers, and ensure a proper reading order.


  • Why Column Headers in a Data Table are Important – Using table headers is important to conveying tabular data accurately.
  • Why the Reading Order in a Table is Important – Screen readers read tables from left to right, top to bottom, one cell at a time (& only once). If cells are split or merged, it could throw the reading order off which may make the table difficult to comprehend by users who are blind and using a screen reader to navigate.
Color Use sufficient color contrast; Don’t use color alone to convey meaning. Without sufficient color contrast between font and background, people who are color blind and low vision will not benefit from the information. And using color alone to convey meaning will leave those who are color blind or blind unable to interpret the meaning.
Keyboard Ensure that any action that uses a mouse can also be completed using only the keyboard. Mobility and visual disabilities often make using a mouse impossible or ineffective. If content is not keyboard accessible, it will limit who can learn from the content.
Images Provide alternative (Alt) text descriptions for images. Alt text is read by a screen reader. It should adequately describe what is being displayed and why it’s important. This allows screen reader users to benefit from the information being conveyed by the image, even if they cannot see it.
Navigation Design clear and consistent navigation. Clear and consistent navigation in your course will allow students to focus on your content rather than on how to find it.
Blinking Eliminate or limit blinking / flashing content to 3 seconds. Blinking content is distracting, and it can cause seizures to occur in people with a photosensitive disorder.
Forms Label form fields and buttons clearly; Ensure a proper logical reading order in a form.
  • Why the reading order of a form is important Using the tab key, your cursor should follow through the form in the same order it is intended to be completed. This benefits users who cannot use a mouse.
  • Why labeling buttons and form fields is important A screen reader will identify the button or form field by reading the label. The label should adequately describe the button’s action, and the form field label should indicate what information should be filled in to the form field.
Video Video recordings must have synchronized captions (the text content should appear at approximately the same time that audio would be available) Video captions benefit many viewers. Captions are essential for those who are deaf and hard of hearing, but they also aid in comprehension for non-native English speakers, those who are unfamiliar with vocabulary, and viewers with some learning disabilities or in a noisy environment. Video captioning is available for a fee* or you can create your own using tools such as Camtasia or YouTube.
Audio Audio recordings must have a transcription with time code that aligns with the audio playback. Audio transcripts benefit many students. They are essential for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, but they also assist anyone who would like to read or search the transcript. Audio transcription is available for a fee* or you can generate your own transcripts using transcription tools such as Transcribe or as you create the files using Speech-to-Text tools such as Dragon.

* Information Technology Services (ITS) can provide information about fee-based third-party services that have been used successfully in the past, and whose usage is approved by the University. Contact 6-TECH at (336) 256-TECH (8324) or for information about these services.

Software Require only accessible software & applications. Inaccessible software and applications will shut students with disabilities out.
Math & Science Write math and science equations accessibly.


For web pages, use an equation editor that outputs MathML. For MS Word and PPT documents, use the MathType plugin.
Created by and shared under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

For more information check out the following resources:



Vendor Resources

Quick Reference / Tips

  • The User Settings page provides a feature option called a High Contrast Style. When enabled, this feature offers higher contrast in buttons, tabs, and other areas throughout Canvas.
  • The Chat Tool has an option to enable audio notifications when new messages are posted
  • When using Crocodoc within SpeedGrader, Crocodoc annotations are not accessible to screen readers. Instead, instructors and TAs should leave comments for students in the Comments area, which can be read by screen readers.
  • The Rich Content Editor supports multiple accessibility features for easy content creation:



Vendor Resources:

Non-Vendor Resources:

Quick Reference / Tips

  • Most of WebEx’s functionality is accessible, but some is not.
  • The WebEx interfaces themselves are generally accessible. Be sure to make your content available in alternative formats if necessary / requested.
  • Whiteboards and shared content may not have the same accessibility, however. Alternate delivery methods may be necessary for any shared content – for example, you may need to make PowerPoint files available outside the session itself.
  • Screen Sharing functionality is generally problematic for screen reader users
  • Inside of Training Center, some participation actions (polling, hand-raising, e.g.) may not work well with screen readers.
  • Consider using a Closed-Captionist for hearing-impaired users (Meeting Center only). This user can be brought into the session and specifically assigned a role as a Captionist.



Vendor Resources:

Quick Reference / Tips

  • Google Docs / Drive:
    • For users with visual impairments, Google Documents may need to be converted into Microsoft Word documents.
    • Use heading styles
    • for read-only versions of a Google Doc, export it to an MS Word document
    • Do not create PDF files directly from Google Docs
    • Some users may not be able to edit documents online
    • For users that cannot edit files/documents online, use the Drive Sync Client to edit documents on the local machine instead of online (convert to Office formats if needed).
  • Google Sites
    • only insert text, links, lists, and images (with alternative text)  into Google Sites
    • tables and other embedded objects cannot be made fully accessible
    • Some users may not be able to edit content within Sites
  • ChromeVox is a screen reader for Chrome


Vendor Resources:

Quick Reference / Tips

  • is the interface designed for accessible needs, allowing the creation of shared links and modification to sharing type (everyone or just members of folder). Also allows the creation of Box notes/folders, with the ability to upload and upload via email.
  • Real-time co-authoring functionality in Box Notes may not be supported by screen readers.

Microsoft Office & Office Online (Office365 Web Apps)

Vendor Resources:

Quick Reference / Tips

  • MS Office 2016 for PC includes an “Accessibility Checker” which runs through the document scanning for compatibility and includes information on how to address detected issues. This feature is available in: Excel 2016, Word 2016, PowerPoint 2016
  • MS Office 2016 for Mac does not include the Accessibility Checker which scans the documents to see if it is formatted correctly for screen readers / accessible needs.
  • MS Web Apps does not include the  Accessibility Checker at this time.
  • Office Online (Office365 Web Apps) and MS Office 2016 for Mac/PC provides keyboard shortcuts for accessibility

Office Online (Web Apps) is WAI-ARIA compliant. Each browser has accessibility options that should be explored outside of the Office suite