Tools for creating accessible content


Here you can find tools and guidelines to create accessible digital educational material.
However, you should be aware of the accessibility aspects of the different types of digital content. See: Accessible digital content.

Related topics

Key tips

Choice of the most suitable digital format

The choice should be based on the learning goals and the way the material is to be used.
Digital formats for:

  • Editing mostly-text content: word processors like Word and Google Docs.
  • Presenting: digital slideshows like PowerPoint and Google Slides.
  • Working with data in tabular form: spreadsheets like Excel and Google Sheets.
  • Interactive content: Web and APPs.
  • Publishing read-only content: digital documents and e-books like PDF and EPUB.

There must be a consistency in the naming of documents and resources. This makes it easy to find and maintain the educational material. Some best practices:

  • Use a descriptive filename. It should state the content of the file. E.g. it is better “Maths_grades_2022_WS.xls” than “2022_WS.xls”.
  • To Include in the filename:
    • Project name.
    • Type of data. Eg. grades.xls, class_notes.txt, …
    • Author or responsible person.
    • Date. Be consistent and use a format like "YYYYMMDD" or "YYYY_MM_DD" that enables chronological order. E.g. "filenaming_20230207.pdf".
    • When there are multiple versions. E.g. "map_Europe_political_v05.png" or "lecture_01_DRAFT.ppt" , "lecture_01_FINAL.ppt".
    • When the file is part of a set: add in the filename the numbering it with left padding zeros. I.e. "namefileX_0001.doc", "namefileX_0002.doc", …
  • Better avoid:
    • Long filenames.
    • Spaces. Use instead Dashes “-” or underscores “_” to separate words.
    • Special characters. E.g. /, \, (), [], {}, !, “, $, %, &, ?...
    • Inconsistencies in the numbering, dates, etc.
Write accessible editable documents
  • Digital text files like “.txt”. This type of editable document is the simplest and its content is limited to plain text characters, which means the text is not formatted. To make these files accessible, the creator has to deal only with issues related to language and readability. See: Accessible text.
  • The most used approach is using word processors like Microsoft Word or Google Docs to create editable office documents. Those are able to accommodate richer content such as formatted text, images, charts, etc… There are several tools and file formats which support accessibility features E.g. “.doc”, “.docx” and “.odt”. But, it depends on the author that the final document is accessible. Due to the more complex content, additional accessibility guidelines apply. Following them makes the creation of such content much easier. Some of the most important ones are:
    • Assure that a logical, easy to understand and consistent content structure is implemented using the proper structuring and styling tools.
    • Non-textual content should have linked textual alternatives so that learners can choose the way of consuming it that best suits them.
    • Legibility and colour contrast of the content should be enough so that students can perceive the information easily.
    • Complex layouts should be avoided and used only for the sake of improving the likelihood of reaching the learning goals.
    • The reading order is logical visually and the tagging of the content (for assistive technology) also follows the logical, expected order.
    • See: Accessible office documents.
Make accessible slides

Slides present the information mainly visually. The main work to make them accessible is providing alternative means of conveying the information. Additionally, notice that digital slides can contain rich multimedia and interactive elements which adds an additional layer of complexity for ensuring accessibility. Some of the most important accessibility guidelines are:

  • Accessible visual presentation with big enough font sizes, colour contrast and line spacing.
  • Slides should have a consistent and simple layout throughout the entire presentation using a guiding slide-template.
    • Logical reading order.
    • Repeated content like slide number and logos should be located consistently in the same place.
  • Each slide should contain a unique title that states the key point of the slide.
  • Complex non-text elements are common in digital slides. They should be described thoroughly using a long description. See. Complex non-text elements.
  • Elements that the students can interact with, usually called “interactive elements”, should be easily perceived and their purpose explicitly stated.
  • Animations, transition should be simple and avoid flickering effects.

Popular software like Microsoft PowerPoint and Google Slides have features that assist with the creation of accessible slides. See: PowerPoint.

Make accessible Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets are meant for working with tabular data, ensuring the accessibility of this type of digital documents requires that the author pay attention to many details. The content they may include is not limited to static numeric and text data, but also dynamic data that updates with the use of formulas and macros. Additionally, it is frequent to find complex non-text elements like graphs and charts that require careful accessibility assessment. Popular tools for working with spreadsheets are able to output accessible material. But, the general accessibility guidelines that are outlined in the Accessible Data Tables page must be followed.

To find out more about the implementation of accessible spreadsheets visit the Spreadsheets topic page.

Interactive documents

This kind of educational material provides content that reacts to the user inputs. E.g. online tests or physics simulations. This can be implemented as forms (document or web based), apps that run in PCs and tablets or as web applications that run in web browsers. The accessibility guidelines for such documents are mostly based on, or refer to, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
You can find out more in the topic page Web.

Digital publications

This is about educational material intended to be read only e.g. dictionaries, books, etc. The focus is on sharing the information accurately (e.g. content in a digital book looks the same as in the equivalent printed version) and providing students with useful tools for its consumption (e.g. distraction free mode, customisable text font and background, …).
You can find out more by going to Publish accessible digital content and to the more specific pages for PDF and EPUB digital publishing formats.