Key Strategies to Develop Accessible Course Materials

Why is this so important?

  • UConn is committed to providing equal opportunities for all students and is required to do so under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and state law.  
  • In addition to this legal obligation, accessibility allows learners to engage fully with their classes, peers, and faculty. Accessible learning allows individuals to obtain  the most out of their UConn experience, and ultimately ensures that education is inclusive and available to everyone.

Who does this apply to?

  • Instructors: To ensure that all members of the UConn community have equal access to course materials, it's important for faculty to plan ahead and place their textbook orders through UConn's partnership with Barnes & Noble in a timely manner. This gives Barnes & Noble the necessary lead time to work with publishers and make any necessary format accommodations. Providing course content in multiple formats, including but not limited to documents (such as Word, PowerPoint, and PDF documents), videos, audio, images, and websites, can also improve accessibility and ensure equal participation.
  • Publishers: One way publishers can support accessibility is by providing course content in multiple formats, including, but is not limited to: PDFs, Word documents, videos, and eBooks. Such formats offer various accessibility features, such as the ability to magnify text, adjust line spacing, and wrap text when resizing windows.


Captioning and transcribing videos and audio files not only help make content accessible to those who are deaf or hard of hearing, but can benefit anyone, including those who prefer to read along with the audio, or those who speak a different language. 

Adding Captions to Kaltura Videos

Editing Captions in Kaltura Videos

To order professional captions, please contact

Use sans-serif fonts

Such type of fonts do not have the small lines (or serifs) at the ends of the letters, which gives them a clearer appearance, making them a smart choice for digital content, web design, and user interface design. Examples of sans-serif fonts include Arial, Calibri, and Verdana.

Include semantic structure and headers

Include semantic structure and headers, and be sure to use a font size of at least 12 to improve accessibility, enhance readability, and make the content easier to navigate. Go to Step 3 in the Manually Making a Document Accessible  instructions on the IT Accessibility website.

Use true tables with headers

Use true tables with headers to organize information. This makes it easier to read and understand relationships between data, which enhance accessibility for those using assistive technologies, and allows for easier data manipulation and analysis. Go to Step 11 in the Manually Making a Document Accessible  instructions on the IT Accessibility website.

Add alt text for images

Add alt text for images to improve web accessibility. Providing a description of images benefits individuals who are visually impaired and use screen readers to access the content. It also ensures that the information on the page is understandable even when images don't load. For Office365, right click the image and click View Alt Text. For earlier versions of office, go to Step 5 in the Manually Making a Document Accessible  instructions on the IT Accessibility website.

Use descriptive hyperlinks

Not sure what that is? No problem. These are hyperlinks in a web page or document that clearly and accurately describe the destination or purpose of the link. They improve accessibility and usability and clarify the link's purpose and destination.  An example of a descriptive hyperlink is IT Accessibility at UConnGo to Step 4 in the Manually Making a Document Accessible  instructions on the IT Accessibility website.

Ensure adequate color contrast 

Ensure adequate color contrast when preparing course materials. This ensures that text stands out against its background, making it more legible and easier to read. Colour Contrast Analyser is a free tool you can use to check if there is enough color contrast.  

Don't rely on color alone to convey information.  Colorblind and low vision users may not be able to perceive the color differences, and screen readers do not announce colors to non-sighted readers. For example, "Select the green button to advance to the next module" should be written instead as, "Select the green Start button to advance to the next module."

Use Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

Use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) when creating PDFs from scanned materials. Doing so makes the document searchable and selectable, allowing individuals with visual impairments to more easily access and use the information through screen readers or other assistive technology. It also makes the information more readily accessible for search and indexing purposes.  Follow the instructions in the article "Scanning to PDF from UConn Xerox Printers."

Use the accessibility checkers 

Use the accessibility checkers to help identify potential barriers to accessibility, such as missing alt text for images, improperly structured headings, poor color contrast, and accessibility issues. 

Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker

Blackboard Ally in HuskyCT