Why is digital accessibility so important?
To provide an excellent user experience on our websites, apps, digital tools and social media accounts as well as in our emails and while developing classroom materials, we must consider the accessibility of our digital content.
Easier Use for All
While it is true that those with disabilities often use assistive technology like
screen readers or keyboards to navigate online, optimizing our digital experiences
to comply with accessibility guidelines ensures that our content serves all students,
community members and other visitors excellently.
Creating Accessible Digital Content
Screen readers read the field labeled alternative (alt) text to describe an image. The field is required for any image placed on your digital product. Alt text isn’t just functional, it should be written in a way that enhances your product.
Do this: Describe the content of the image. Include any information or locations that are specific to the university. Be descriptive but succinct.
Not that: Writing "image of" or "photo of" before an image description is redundant. A screen reader says the content type before reading the description.
Insufficient color contrast can make it very difficult for people with vision-related
disabilities to consume your content. If you must use text in your image, appropriate
color use and text contrast are vital to accessibility.
Do this: Check your contrast ratio with the WebAIM Contrast Checker to ensure strong contrast between your text and background color and use monochromatic colors.
Not that: Don't include text in images unless it is absolutely necessary. Make sure that you don't rely on color alone to convey information.
Color and Contrast »
Many PDFs and Word files aren’t accessible, which makes it difficult or impossible for screen readers to read the content to users. It is better to present the content as a web page.
Do this: Create web pages for your document content. When you must use a PDF or Word file, use our document guidelines to help make your documet user friendly for everyone.
Not that: Posting content in PDFs or Word documents is not a good practice as most users prefer browsing on a page.
Screen readers have a mode that’s just for reading forms. Only accessible forms created with Formstack and OU Campus are approved by Communications and Public Affairs.
Do this: Build forms only in OU Campus or Formstack. Move all third-party forms onto these platforms. Put all descriptive text before or after the form on the page, not within the form itself.
Not that: Creating forms using other platforms like Google or Wufoo risks the accessibility rating for university pages. If a third-party vendor needs to be checked for accessibility, please notify the committee using the questions and issues form.
Screen readers help a user navigate a product by reading the headings. If the screen has no headings, the screen reader reads every line. Ideally, a site viewer should be able to grasp what the content is about just by reading the headings.
Do this: Give your text headings in sequential order (h1-h6). Write headings in a way that summarizes your content for skimming the screen.
Not that: Headings that are out of order or missing will confuse screen readers and their users.
Link text should make it easy for a user or screen reader to understand where a link will take them. Screen readers often combine all links on a screen into a list to make navigation faster.
Do this: Replace any vague link text with text that’s clear about the link destination.
Not that: Links reading “Click Here” or “Learn More” are vague because they don’t explain the destination.
Presentations have their own guidelines for creating accessible content. Just like other digital content, all of your presentations must adhere to accessibility standards.
Do this: Follow the specific accessibility instructions for each common presentation platform.
Not that: Not all presentation platforms have the necessary options to meet accessibility standards. All content must still be made accessible.
Screen readers need header rows to make sense of your columns and to navigate the data table. If a table doesn't have a header row, the screen reader may not be able to understand how cells relate to each other.
Do this: Build tables using the snippets provided in OU Campus, which provides a header row by default.
Not that: Don't delete the default header row, and make sure to update the column headings with appropriate text.
All videos should be close-captioned to assist visitors who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Captions also let sighted viewers listen and read simultaneously, which often aids in information recall.
Do this: Add captions to all videos that you plan to ask others to engage with.
Not that: Never rely on auto-captioning provided by third-party video hosts such as YouTube, which relies on speech recognition technology and is often inaccurate. Although you may use these auto-generated captions as a starting point, you will still need to edit them to ensure they are correct.