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Guidelines: Accessible
 Distance Education

A Summary of Accessibility Guidelines

This section's guidelines are for MSWord, PDFs, Excel, Powerpoint, Web pages, and Video (and their equivalents in other software packages). the recommendations are almost the same for all these various document types. This first section puts the guidelines together and differentiates when necessary between software techniques.

The following table will contain a property on the left, and accessibility requirements or suggestions on the right. Text listed in bold is required to achieve accessibility.

Abbreviations and Acronyms Give an expanded version with first occurrence; this is a basic style recommendation. Examples: APA "American Psychriatric Association" style guide; Office of Human Resources "OHR" employment form. Set software to auto expand if possible.
Animations Give alternative text or description that is concise and meaningful.
Avoid flashing images or repetitive animations th at never stop.
Animation should not cycle more than 3 times and there should be a stop control.
Backgrounds Avoid busy or distracting backgrounds. Backgrounds are more common in Powerpoint and you should provide alternate templates or document versions without backgrounds.
Chunking Divide large blocks of information into more manageable chunks. For Powerpoint and Flash keep information equal from screen to screen.
Closed Captions With the ability to embed or link to video and audio or use animations and applets almost anywhere, be sure to:
  1. Use synchronized closed captions for audio and video or timed material
  2. Include a text description
  3. Provide a full text script.
You will need special software and most likely assistance to accomplish these goals.
Colors Use contrast and avoid combinations such as red/green or blue/yellow. Color must never be the primary or only way to convey meaning. Example: do not say, click the red button. Print in black and white to be certain your contrasts are sufficient.
Contrast Use large contrast between foregrounds and backgrounds. View and print in black and white to make certain the contrast is strong enough.
Converting other file types Use latest versions available. Note in the document if a particular version is necessary to read or open the document. this is most common on the web.
Converting to Web
  • Always put documents in at least two (2) formats. Giving several versions (Word, HTML, PDF and plain text) can cover most needs.
  • MS Word and Excel's save as HTML feature is functional but not perfect.
  • PDF is considered "web-ready." However, providing alternate versions is a good idea.
  • PowerPoint: Do not use "Save as HTML." Consider creating a hand-coded html version. Copy the images and text into Dreamweaver, frontpage etc. Create a custom template to save as jpg.
  • Make video available in the common formats: MOV, AVI, ASF, WMV, RM, MPG. Formats that allow for rate adaption during viewing are ideal. Use SMIL or other programs to make video with text more accessible. Try to keep frame rates between 15-30 frames/second.

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