Tips for Providing Barrier-Free Access

From Help Wiki

Tips and guidelines for accessibility at Evergreen

Making your class materials available to students with documented disabilities is not only good practice, it’s also a legal requirement.

What can I do to make my course materials barrier-free and compatible with access technology?

Most document/file types and digital formats, such as PDFs, Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, and web pages, can all be created in accessible barrier-free ways. Here are some tips:

  • Books: Use books with standard formats and typefaces. Contact Access Services for alternate formats.
  • PDF: Check it with Adobe Acrobat's accessibility report, apply OCR, and include tags.
  • Word Documents: Properly format visually and semantically with the application of styles - headings, bulleted lists, etc.
  • Spreadsheets: Proper use of semantics in Excel.
  • Web pages (including Canvas and WordPress): Evaluate the accessibility of your web page with the Firefox browser's WAVE toolbar or Google Chrome's WAVE Evaluation Tool Plugin.
  • Video: Be sure any videos you use in the classroom or link to for students to view include captions and audio descriptions.

Quick Accessibility Tips


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.


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.


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.


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.


Use sufficient color contrast, and 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.


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 the content is not keyboard accessible, it will limit who can learn from the content.


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.


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.


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.


Label form fields and buttons clearly, and 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 user who cannot use a mouse.

  • Why labeling buttons and form fields are 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 into the form field.


Keep a list of videos and audio recordings that are not captioned/subtitled or transcribed. Access Services will ask you for that list when you have a student with a captioning accommodation.

  • 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
  • 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.


Require only accessible software & applications.

  • Inaccessible software and applications will shut out students with disabilities. For questions regarding interactive applications and software you may be using, please submit a ticket at

Math & Science

Write math and science equations accessibly.

  • For web pages, use the Math Editor in Canvas that outputs LaTeX. For MS Word and PPT documents, use the Math Type plugin.