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Module 2: Creating Accessible Digital Documents

Contrary to common assumption, digital does not necessarily mean accessible for users with disabilities. In this module, you’ll learn how to create digital documents with text and images that all users can access.

This module is composed of a recorded webinar and up to four hours of additional activities. Each level has a time commitment of approximately one hour. Choose how many levels you complete by the amount of time you want to spend developing your skills.

Begin by watching this one-hour webinar, which explains:

  • Adding alternative text to images and other visuals
  • Using headings, unique slide titles and descriptive hyperlinks
  • Checking for sufficient color contrast
  • Performing an accessibility check

Digital Handout (MS Word)

Webinar Slides (PowerPoint)

Level 1: Start

Goal: Explain to a colleague the importance of accessible documents for users with disabilities. 
Time Commitment: 2 hours (including the one-hour webinar)

Build Understanding

Reflect & Take Action

For Microsoft Office Users
Select a Microsoft Word document or a PowerPoint presentation that you currently use for instruction or another purpose. Perform an accessibility check to establish a baseline for the work you will do in Level 2 & Level 3. 

For Google Workspace Users
If you are following along with Google Docs or Slides, consider the Grackle add-ons to perform a similar check (free for 30 days). Please note: Before downloading any program to your device, be sure to read the developer’s privacy practices.

Once you have performed your check, take a few minutes to review the remediation tips provided by the checker. You’ll have an opportunity to fix errors in Level 2.

Level 2: Reach

Goal: Apply accessibility best practices when creating a document.
Time Commitment: 3 hours (including the one-hour webinar and the Level 1 activities)

Build Understanding

Reflect & Take Action

Download the provided Microsoft Word document or Google Doc: 

To the “Before” version of the document, apply “Perceivable” and “Operable” techniques to: 

  • Create a logical heading structure
  • Insert descriptive hyperlinks that make sense out of context
  • Add alternative text to the images 

When you are done, use the "After" version of the document to check your work.

To explore similar concepts with a presentation, download the provided Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides practice documents: 

To the “Before” document, apply “Perceivable” and “Operable” techniques to: 

  • Create unique slide titles (similar to headings)
  • Set a proper reading order
  • Insert descriptive hyperlinks
  • Add alternative text to images

When you are done, use the "After" version of the presentation to check your work.

After practicing with the provided documents, perform similar corrections on your own document that you selected for the Level 1 activity.

Level 3: Stretch

Goal: Create a document that can pass an accessibility check, demonstrating proficiency with accessibility best practices.
Time Commitment: 4 hours (including the one-hour webinar and the Level 1 & Level 2 activities)

Build Understanding

Reflect & Take Action 

Continue working with your own document or presentation from Level 1 by completing the following accessibility checks:

  • Check the colors of the headings and text in your document or presentation for sufficient contrast. [Before downloading any program to your device, be sure to read the developer’s privacy practices.]
    • Consider the Colour Contrast Analyser from TPGi (Mac and Windows). Select different color values until the check passes at level AA for regular text. In Microsoft Word, you can use the Styles listed in the Home tab of the Ribbon to customize each heading and text style. 
    • The Colour Contrast Checker extension for Chrome is another option if you need to check the contrast while working in the Chrome web browser.
  • Check your document for accessibility
    • For Microsoft Office users
      Run the Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker on your document or presentation. Note items that need to be fixed and re-run the check after correcting the identified accessibility issues. Remember that the Accessibility Checker is found in the Review tab of the Ribbon. 
    • For Google Workspace users
      Consider the Grackle add-on to perform a similar check (free for 30 days)

Next, offer to check the accessibility of a colleague’s document. Share the results and show them how to practice the necessary corrections to make their document more accessible.

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