Online Content Accessibility

Little changes make a big difference when creating online content.

Reading material that has proper electronic text and appropriate structural tags can be read out loud, quickly searched, and navigated with ease. Video or audio files that have captions or transcripts can be accessed by those who can't hear, or those without speakers, or those in noisy environments.

Whether you are using Word, or PowerPoint, Excel, or Adobe; whether you are creating handouts or forms or videos; if you are creating online content, you need to know about best practices.

NCDAE's accessible content instructions are short, concise cheatsheets and videos to take you through the steps for accessible formatting of Windows & Mac Word, PowerPoint, Excel, PDF and video files. 

UAA's Academic Innovations & eLearning staff have compiled a list of Accessibility Tutorials and How-To Guides and are available to guide content creators through the design of materials using best practices such as:

  • Making PDFs searchable and more accessible
  • Making Forms Fillable
  • Captioning or Subtitling Video
  • Making websites universal

Accessible Course Design

There are as many variations in how courses are designed in colleges and universities as there are professors and instructors sharing expertise. Accessible course design is not about dictating the methods used, but rather, is about providing faculty with the technical assistance and troubleshooting expertise to design in such a way that maximizes the likelihood that a wide range of students will be able to compete fairly, learn, and demonstrate mastery. Accessible course design removes barriers before they are encountered so the need for accommodation can be reduced.

Course facilitators who are interested in making sure all course content is accessible to and usable by all students, may benefit from workshops and professional development offered by Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence (CAFE), Academic Innovations & eLearning (AIEL), Human Resources (HR) and Disability Support Services (DSS).

Accessible Web Design

Online information and services should be easy to use and intuitive to navigate. Evaluation measures can help to make sure current offerings are meeting end user needs and training is available for those who are responsible for building or maintaining online offerings.

The Content Management Systems (CMS) can make it easier to build and maintain accessible websites, but whether you are using the CMS or not, there are important standards you must understand to implement appropriately.


  • According to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of disability.
  • Section 508 of the Rehab Act outlines specific mandates for online content published by the federal government - many states have adopted similar rules.


Sites that are designed with accessibility in mind also provide a benefit for the community by honoring diversity through proactive planning. This approach provides clear benefits for:

  • People with disabilities
  • People learning English
  • People with age related sensory declines
  • People with lower comfort level with technology


Sites that are designed with accessibility in mind will also provide the following benefits for the sponsor or hosting entity:

  • More hits in search engines
  • Ability to reach a wider market share
  • Increased positive regard


Sites that are designed with accessibility in mind will also provide the following benefits for the designer:

  • Faster loading times
  • Easier site maintenance
  • Fewer requests for retroactive accommodation
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