Would Your Material Pass an Accessibility Test?

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male student raising hand for test

Picture; for a moment, you are a teacher. Today is exam day and all of your students will test on your material. As your students take their seats, the bell rings, and their attention is all yours for the next 55 minutes.

“Good morning, class. As you know, today is test day! In a moment I’ll be handing out your exams. If you have any questions, raise your hand and I’ll be right there.”

Seconds later in a class of 20 students, four hands shoot up.

What could be wrong?

Those four students cannot read your exam. According to the 2015 U.S. Census Bureau, one in five people have a disability, and your test wasn’t written with accessibility in mind. So you reschedule the test for those 4 students and figure out how to provide your material in a way that they can access it. Remember, the test doesn’t need to change; the format does.

Accessibility means everyone, everywhere

Blindness, deafness, visual impairments, reading and learning disabilities, and motor impairments, are all disabilities to keep in mind when addressing accessibility.  Accessibility applies to all documents created for citizens, staff and the general public.  When you follow accessibility standards, your document will be accessed by everyone, regardless of disability. For more information, read Why Accessible Documents are Needed.

Is the content accessible?

As you look into accessibility and accommodation, think of what you must do to get those words off the page and to the reader. If you use charts, pictures, graphs, PDFs, or colors, you must ensure that the content is still accessible.

  • When creating accessible documents for people with a visual impairment or blindness, format online docs so they are accessible for screen readers. Make sure you properly format headings, tables and lists to allow easy navigation from technology.
  • For visual impairment, use a font within federal guidelines and avoid busy backgrounds so that it’s usable by assistive technology devices. Use proper color-contrast ratios to ensure documents can be read by individuals with color blindness.
  • For people who are deaf and/or deaf-blind, include captions and transcripts.
  • To compose accessible documents for people with learning disabilities, use large text and simple language that is clear and well written.
  • For people with motor disabilities, make sure you test accessibility by using keyboards, touch screens and other assistive products.

It means different things for different industries.

When approaching accessibility, ask yourself “Have I addressed the people who have direct access, and those using assisted access or technology?” The goal is to minimize barriers for people with disabilities, and eventually eradicate barriers altogether. Accessibility improves access to employment, learning, health care, retail and other services.

Accessibility also means physical accommodations like braille signs, wheelchair ramps, elevators and tactile paving. In digital marketing, accessibility references website design, devices, and colors. Educators address accessibility with syllabi, notes, exams, and even the database for submitting work. No matter what industry you serve, accessibility is pivotal for all people to have equal access. Accessibility is the forethought.

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This post was written by Clerise Phillip Samuel

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