Using Story Maps in Higher Education

Maps and Models

Maps are one of the most sophisticated graphics to try and design accessibly.  There are plenty of reasons to try and make them accessible.  Some elements are impossible to make accessible for blind individuals without printing a raised line or braille version or 3d model.  3d model of the United StatesI’ve yet to find an online map that truly works well in describing a map of a region.  But story maps are a little different.  The problem with north-south, east-west graphical orientation still exists, but often the information that is most essentials is still portrayed in a means that works even for screenreader users.  Keyboard issues exist in altering the location on the screen, but one can still table around from demarked areas.

Story Map* generally add location markers, which trigger a sidebar graphic and text.  One can usually tab through a series of numbered thumbnails, to this content.

The chief issue with maps is displaying important information and making one aware of the orientation geographically.  But the orientation geographically cannot be perceived in a functional way to someone who is blind.  Only 3d representations and models really work effectively for that purpose.

When marking up a regular map, you must make sure that the location markers link to content that describes the visual location.  Say for instance you have a house located on Elm Street, three house from the cross street Main Street.  The descriptor in order to be accessible must list such information, even if the sight don’t need that information.  Most often Story maps will not include that information.  The orientation to the map is of lesser importance than the information described.

Story Map Example

Story map example with 5 points

In the Story Map example above.  There are five areas highlighted. 1 is the title of the story map, with a brief description. 2 is the navigation area.  3 shows the map markers. 4 Shows the thumbnails of the different markers showing an image and some text.  And 5 shows the enlarged version of that image and the text.  Both 2 and 3 are not reachable using a screenreader, but the information that is significant is contained in 4 and 5 which can be reached.  Unless, of course, the orientation between the points is of issue, and usually it would not be in a course.

Different for Street Maps

This differs from street maps where the orientation is the objective.  The whole point is to help someone know the location of the bank or so other place.  When we use GPS systems, we don’t need to see the physical map to get to the location.  We just need the street address, and the system vocalizes when to turn. With Story Maps the focus is the information about a location and not the navigational elements.

Some people believe that because Story Maps don’t provide orientation and navigation elements that they are inaccessible.  However, I think that blind individuals would just like to know what information is going to be on the test, and orientation is not the type of question created by professors.

Were the orientation may be of consequence is in understand the changes of a map over time.  This is clearly illustrated in the reconfiguration of Europe from the 19th to the twentieth century and for the movement of troops in a battle.  The changes again can be illustrated using tactile graphics or 3d objects.  Describing these types of changes orally may possible work, but for the most part changes over time are very difficult to describe without visuals to accompany them.

Map example showing multiple tabs that is not accessibleEven adding alt tags to the images of a series of maps that change over time is a difficult task.  This Civil War era map (to the left), built with flash, provides ample visual information but does not convey the information accessibly.  Each one of the tabs (located at  the bottom) which show different data would have to have alt tags or descriptive text that provided the same information.  Flash is notoriously inaccessible.  It would be better to create a video and have a voice describe the changes ongoing on the map.  That means these graphical changes are described, so that the visual changes can be understood orally.  So keep that in mind when designing content using maps.

Sample Story Resources

ARCGIS Examples

Twelve things you didn’t know you could do with story maps

Faculty Should Design Accessible Content

Justice symbolI’m often asked what is permissible, as if I were the legal guardian of all things accessible.  It’s a legitimate question when it comes to denying someone their civil rights, but when it comes to faculty content, the question’s answer is much more blurred.  For some the line is held that any and all content created needs to be accessible.  That’s the goal, and that’s the focus. However, I see that as an impossible task.  I hold the view that content that is public facing should be accessible, when its logical to do so – meaning if you can’t actually make all online content accessible.  I try to work toward the goals of universal design for learning, meaning everyone should have access to everything, and we should be designing multimodal representations of content.  Videos should have captions and transcripts.  Graphics should be labelled so that essential meaning is conveyed.  Interactive content should be able to be triggered by any user who comes to the information.  This is public content, and all things within a state-run institution should be accessible.

The Divide

The divide for educational content Then there was course content.  People pay to take classes, and classes are a product.  If a student who has a need for accessible content enrolls in a course, then that content needs to be accessible.  This is my main and chief tenet.  However, that doesn’t mean we don’t work toward accessible course content.  Why?  It is important to move toward accessible content, because frankly we don’t know whether someone is going to need an accommodation next term [that gets even more difficult to know in distance education classes where many disabled students do not identify at all]. Why should we wait to caption videos for faculty, when we know that the use them over and over (most frequently) and we know that captioned videos are used by non-disabled students.  UDL guides us in this direction as well.  Multimodal content can be useful to everyone depending on their circumstance.

If we place a video, then a transcript and captioning are useful for the educational presentation of that content.  The same is true for pictures.  Pictures may convey those thousand words, but actually each of us can interpret that picture in a thousand ways.  When faculty present graphics in their courses, they usually focus in on what they want to project as meaningful content.  Meaning they read the graphic and give information about the significance of the picture – that’s what an alt tag is.

Tables of data get more complex, especially when the tables are divided into subcategories.  People who can see frequently have trouble reading tables unless there is a description of what they are supposed to be looking for – instructions for reading tables are important especially when the data is represented in complex ways.  That’s why charts and figures are derived from data, to make those tables of data more clearly recognizable.  The problem is that the more information contained in a table and the cross reference with other materials in the table may be extremely difficult for persons who are disabled to comprehend — especially visual and cognitive disabilities.  Take an instance like this:

this table highlights heading structure with multiple suheadings

Improved Communication

Faculty should want to provide this information to make their communications clear and to provide student with a greater understanding of the course content.   Faculty should look at graphics and pinpoint what they mean through the use of a graphic.  When meaning is hidden, it becomes inaccessible.  When meaning is inaccessible, it becomes hidden.  This concept clearly shows up when examining the accessibility of PowerPoint. When faculty give a presentation and cover a table or complex graphic, they should also provide a written description of the table in the text of their handouts, so that the meaning they are conveying can be understood by anyone not capable of seeing their table on the slide, but it is much easier to create the complexity than explain it in writing.

Color contrast example powerpoint slideGood color contrast which is a principle of online design, really will affect the non-disabled population as much as those with vision loss.  People will immediately speak out about hard to read headings and captions on images.  The font size is another visual issue that people will complain about.

Powerpoint Slide example too much text But the worst and most common complaint I’ve heard is the amount of content on the slides.

When presenters spend time reading through boatloads of content off their slides, most people cringe.  The trick is to give out handouts with lengthy content – or attachments like articles that go into detail.  The PowerPoints are supposed to be an outline of points to keep the focus of the audience.

If photos or graphics are used in a PowerPoint they should be illustrative.  If derived from data and data tables, that content is seriously not the type of image you want to present.  You want to present the results and the summary of data.  Use charts: bar graphs, pie charts etc.  Give the finite details in a handout.

If those handouts need to be made accessible before classes, they should be dealt with prior to class, not afterwards.  That is a violation of civil rights.  If you know you have a student with a print disability, the PowerPoints and documents should be produced into accessible formats prior to the class or symposium.

If you use a learning management system, you might look to see if your institution provides Ally.  This service built into certain products like Blackboard and Canvas will usually give a grade to the accessibility of content that you are using in your courses.  It looks at the files in your content area, and provides several useful services.  First, it gives you indicators of how much improvement may be necessary.  These indicators show up as clickable red, orange and green gauges.

Positive accessibility indicator from Ally

Positive accessibility indicator from Ally

Second by clicking those gauges faculty are shown information pertaining to those indicated improvements.  Lastly it allows faculty and their students to automate the conversion of a file into alternative formats.

Most higher education institutions provide support for faculty.  You may have a UDL specialist.  You may have an alternative materials expert or an assistive technology expert who can point you to resources for improving your courses’ accessibility and how well you have provided your content with universal design for learning principles.  Take advantage of any resource person you have at your disposal.

At least with Ally, student can convert content into many different type; including html, enhanced PDF, ePub, electronic Braille, and Audio (MP4).  Now these formats aren’t perfect, but they offer students a quick means to multiple file types never offered before.  In the past students would have to request and accommodation through the disability office.  Now any student, and even the faculty, can make use of these different formats to provide alternatives to what they can use to read, listens, or feel content.

 

5 types of file conversion offered by Ally

5 types of file conversion offered by Ally

Resources

What Not to Do When using PowerPoint

HTML table advanced features and accessibility

Faculty Images and Universal Design for Learning

What is an Alt Tag?

Video Player Accessibility and Ugly Acronyms

Ugly Acronyms

Some acronyms are just ugly: take for instance UAAG 2.0. When someone knows an issue, they can handle an ugly acronym. UAAG stands for User Agent Accessibility Guidelines. If you don’t know what it is, you most likely won’t understand what those guidelines mean until you read in-depth about the topic – references provided below will help you get started. However, one of the topics of accessibility most everyone is familiar with and that is captioning of videos. This accessibility topic is easy-to-understand and has been part of several noteworthy legal actions.

The reason I’m talking about UAAG 2.0 is that a secondary and lesser-known issue is that of inaccessible video players. The Web Accessibility Initiative covers both of these issues and other things such as the accessibility of browsers.

When looking at software that produces content for showing video on the web, you should be aware of whether the software video player meets accessibility standards. Professionals designing web content need to look for a few factors when picking the media player for their site.

Getting ugly GraffitiAlternatives (UDL)

First the media player has to provide alternatives for audiovisual information such as captioning, sign language interpretation, transcripts and/or audio description. That seems to be something most people are aware of. However, often overlooked is how accessible the player is. The player needs to be not only accessible using a mouse but by keyboard in through the use of assistive technology, especially screen readers.

When I run testing, I often don’t have content that I’ve created, so I usually research whether the player can show close captions. Those of you familiar with Captivate, Articulate, Lectora, Camtasia will know that you need to have a method to show captioning of content. Knowing that these are educational technologies, the issue of UAAG 2.0 usually has been addressed. But lesser-known products, often used by specific types of departments which show video content may not be up to speed with the UAAG standard. It is therefore important to look at the player controls to see if they can be accessed without using the mouse and with using assistive technology.

Companies that package video content and sell them to libraries, frequently do not comply with accessibility standards. Though federal law holds motion picture and television content to the close captioning standard, other video players have not been scrutinized by the federal government. These slip through the cracks, and cause accessibility issues for students who are blind, hard of hearing, deaf, learning-disabled etc. Captioning gets all the glitter when it comes to the conversation of accessibility, but in inaccessible player is just as serious an issue.

Even more rare to find is documentation that users can obtain about the media player to learn keystrokes or other features that were designed to improve accessibility. Test to see if there’s any documentation easily acquired through the application. Frequently basic controls such as how to play or stop a video, the ability to resize the screen presented, and volume adjustment should have documentation.

If any of these issues are missed by the manufacturer of the player, consider another player. If you cannot, then contact the company representative to discuss when in future updates these issues will be addressed.

 

Factors in Chosing an Accessible Player

video player supports close captions
video player supports audio description and allows narration to be turned on and off
video player supports keyboard access to all controls
controls are properly labeled for screenreader access
video player operates on all major browsers

Conclusion

Content developers need to provide captioning for instructional content. This is the predominant factor when pursuing accessible video content. Overlooked frequently is the actual player and it’s accessibility.

References:

User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UUAG 2.0)
Web accessibility initiative Wikipedia page (WAI):

You Can Create Accessible Videos — Cast

Existing Accessible Players

Able Player – by Terrill Thompson (GitHub)
OzPlayer – by AccessibilityOz

AFB Accessible Player, American Foundation of the Blind
Other accessible video players exist.

Players in Review

The following webpage provides an excellent example of a comparison of HTML 5 video players: http://videosws.praegnanz.de/
the page describes various aspects of whether it plays on a specific platform has a JS library, CMS plug-in, and a whole lot of other interesting factors.

What the 508 Refresh means to Public Higher Education Institutions

What does non-public facing means in the refresh?  Here is the language that the federal government has included about that in the 508 refresh:

E205.3 Agency Official Communication. Electronic content that is not public facing shall conform to the accessibility requirements specified in E205.4 when such content constitutes official business and is communicated by an agency through one or more of the following:

 

A. An emergency notification;

 

B. An initial or final decision adjudicating an administrative claim or proceeding;

 

C. An internal or external program or policy announcement;

 

D. A notice of benefits, program eligibility, employment opportunity, or personnel action;

 

E. A formal acknowledgement of receipt;

F. A survey questionnaire;

 

G. A template or form;

 

H. Educational or training materials; or

 

I. Intranet content designed as a Web page.

How do we interpret that in higher education where we are trying to make education materials accessible. The fact is that the murky waters of whether or not to caption video content held within a learning management system seem to not be pronounced even with the refresh.

A Universities content is not public communication.  It is a product that people have to pay for.  Higher Education usually doesn’t place place course content in the public setting.  The lawsuit against Harvard and MIT regards the placing of courses for public consumption.  The well endowed educational institutions have a philanthropic idealism in doing this.  Give the world free course!  Empower humanity.  The deaf did not want to be excommunicated in this idea world.

But for public schools with limited or diminishing funding, the concept of captioning every video they have on their servers is preposterous.  Schools using lecture capture software can generate up to 100,000 hours of video content.  At a cost of $1 to $3.25 an minute, captioning one year’s content can cost between $6,000,000 and $19.5 million.

For now a more sane approach of captioning only video content for those who have received an accommodation, verified through the disability office, makes for a practical and lucid resolution.  Only the content that is publicly displayed should require to be accessible to all.

H. Educational or training materials

This section refers to internal training and educational materials that the federal government creates for federal staff.  Creating content that is designed to improve or inform the workforce also needs captioning.  The same is true for state government employees.  That content should also have captioning.  One should caption that upon request, but should have the content created with all employees in mind.

Related previous article

 

Someone who does not use a mouse

Everything Keyboard

Some disabilities are beyond the scope of most folk’s imaginations.  Frequently people who have severe disabilities can splint sticksdo amazing things: like go to college, graduate and work a job.  These individuals are rare, but they are out there defying expectations at every turn.  When limitations are extreme most non-disabled people just haven’t had  any personal experience or association with that type of disability.  The general population often discuss disability in terms of blind and deaf individuals, while  ignoring the million other types of disabilities, including medical conditions.  Several medical conditions which preclude users from interacting with the computer with anything but the keyboard.  This small group of individuals uses only the keyboard to do everything that everyone else does using their hands.  They for some reason can’t operate a mouse at all.  Individuals using only the keyboard are often restricted from using the mouse because they can’t control it, grip it, click the buttons, or simple don’t have enough range of motion to move it properly.

Some individuals drive the computer using only a stick attached to their head, or two sticks strapped to their non-functioning hands (as in quadriplegia).  What ever the reason, the control aspect is very difficult to accommodate.  However, different assistive technologies have been designed fro these most severely disable individuals.

Key guards are the most simple solution. That would be a good reason to see one of these type of keyboard guards:

keyguard for computer

 

 

This type (above)  of key guard is not often seen any longer as most people using keyboard only access solutions are using iPads or communication devices.  That means they can’t speak as well or at all; otherwise they might be recommended to use a voice input solution like Dragon.   They will also have very limited motor skills, which make using a mouse impossible, or at least improbable.

The key guard for iPAd and and iPad mini look like this:

Plexiglass keyguard

I’ve been to many conferences where folks who have the most severe disabilities are in attendance.  Technology is a life line for them.  You might think that they barely function, but you’d be surprised.  Many of them eventually possess PhD’s and other advanced degrees.  I’ve meet some who have written books, worked on federal commissions, been scientists. The barriers they overcome are many, to try not to provide extra obstacles on your website.  Test it to see if you can navigate through the pages and controls using only a keyboard.

Here is a picture of someone who might like to have keyboard only access:

Someone who does not use a mouse

 

AVA Accessibility Tool for Hard of Hearing

AVA Accessibility app

Product: AVA -24/7 Accessibility

The phone app helps solve more or less the most essential problem today for some deaf and hard-of-hearing people: understanding and participating to group conversations.  Group conversation is one of the most problematic issues for hard of hearing users is the ability to distinguish the conversation in a group meeting.  AVA translates group and one-on-one conversations into something that can be read on a cell phone screen, like text messages.

It was just released within the last year on the Appstore and Playstore, and the company would love to hear from their users community. Email them at hello@ava.me With professional interpreter/captioner costs at approximately  $100/hour. Conversation over coffee can be an expensive enterprise.

The Reviews

So far this product looks like it is headed in the right direction. People who have left comments on the Google Play site mention that calibrating the microphone makes the app work better, and that a good internet connection is essential.

Learn more about the product! If you know a deaf/hard-of-hearing person, pass it around please: this little app might actually change the life of someone!

AVA review ratings

See AVA here

Product video advertisement

Finally the 508 Refresh is Complete

No more Waiting

Yes, its final over, the waiting is done. After almost two decades Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act has a rule change which goes into effect as of January 18, 2017.  Though the rule, created by the Access Board.  As written, 508 does not automatically apply to institutions of higher education, even if they receive federal funding. However, States that receive funds through the Assistive Technology Act are required to comply with 508, and all states in the United States receive Tech Act funds.  The refresh updates the current ICT Standards and Guidelines.

 

The final rule updates the existing Section 508 standards and Section 255 guidelines using the most recent version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0)[3] and other consensus standards for specific applications, content, and equipment to define the core set of accessibility requirements not only for Federal agency Web sites, but also for non-Web software applications and authoring tools, data processing and communications hardware, telecommunications equipment, and electronic content procured, developed, maintained, or used by the Federal Government. The final rule specifically requires ICT and specified forms of electronic content produced using these programs and systems to meet the Level A and Level AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements specified for Web pages in WCAG 2.0.

Making the changes due to changes in technology, the US government recognizes that accessibility is not an add-on, bolt-on addition to government services and information, but rather it is a right of Americans to have built-in accessibility. Many people still have the mindset of ad hoc repairs to electronic information, websites and applications; but these federal guidelines enforce access out of the box.

The difference between accommodating individuals with disabilities and making everything accessible is a powerful change. Holding to new standards is a significant step in ensuring your institution information and computer technologies are accessible to all users.  The ruling does provide a safe harbor provision which basically allows elements that are not compliant with the new standard, but were created after the rule goes into effect; however, any aspect created before the new ruling has to be 508 compliant, under the old standard.

As expected the Access Board revised the Section 508 Standards  to make them harmonize with WCAG 2.0.  Under the proposal, these web standards will also apply to software applications, data processing and communication hardware and telecommunications equipment.  The main reason for the need was due to the fact that the old 508 standards were neither testable or measureable.  The WCAG 2.0 standard gives much needed definition.  Many universities and state governmental agencies have been working toward this level of access for years.  Only institutions that have resisted taking the time and spending the money to make their websites and information accessible will really feel the pinch.

Where the changes will hit hardest especially will be video content. Captioning will be mandatory.  Deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans will be able to understand content generate by the government agencies, the Whitehouse, and the congress.  They will no longer be left out.  Applications and websites will also require accessibility to be built in.  Blind and visually impaired computer users will need seamless accessibility for finding records, completing forms, receiving announcements and events, correspondence, legal work and other important communications.

The deadline for the federal government and those working in federal grant programs is Jan. 18, 2018.

What is Section 508?

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by Congress in 1998, required that federal employees with disabilities have access to and use of information and data. Comparable to that for Federal employees without disabilities, unless it is an undue burden to do so. It also requires that disabled members of the public who are seeking information and services from a Federal agency, to have access to and use of information and data comparable to that for members of the public with disabilities.  The law applies to Federal agencies and contractors providing products or services.  30 US state have adopted the 508 ICT standards. (See checklist)

In short electronic information and data must be equally accessible to individuals with and without disabilities.  The idea that classroom materials don’t have to be made accessible if no one with a disability is taking the class may soon be eliminated.  From next year on, schools and universities will have not excuse for not making the information and computer technologies including digital classroom content accessible.

Build it right now

Often when we discuss accessibility at a university, we are soon overwhelmed with the idea of retrofitting or changing all the content we have previously created.  For some institutions hundreds of thousands of files, including, web pages, pdf files, and course content can be a chore beyond imagining.

First of All: Tomorrow begins here today.  We can’t face the past and eliminate those zillion errors in web design, replace all the inaccessible pdf files, and correct the untagged Word documents.  We have to face the future.  That way, you begin by equipping the staff, faculty and students with skills designed to eliminate all those errors.

You might as well start where you can make the most difference.  That is now.

Microsoft has updated Office 365

As recently as December 2016, Microsoft updated Office 365,  with the company adding to the accessibility of their cloud product.

One of the biggest changes is moving the foremost is the placing of the Accessibility Checker to make it more prominent across all the main Office apps (including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. This should help students, staff, and faculty at East Carolina to be able to find this feature and put it to good use.

The checker was designed to review content (documents, presentations, spreadsheets and email) to determine exactly how accessible it is to those who might have visual, hearing or mobility impairments, making suggestions on how to improve any problems – like adding alternate text description for images (so these will be read out aloud by a screen reader). The accessibility checker can easily be found on the review tab, and this is also true for some of the Office for Mac and Office Online apps.

Example of Microsoft accessibility checkerFor additional information regarding Microsoft’s plan of building accessibility into Office 365 read “Plans for 2016” or watch the following video series.

Creating Accessible Announcements and Campus-Related Email

Email and Event Announcements

Introduction

In this training we focus on the basic principles of accessible email for the East Carolina University Community. Staff, students and faculty who receive announcements and campus-related email may have disabilities and so the content you send needs to be either fully accessible, or available in multiple formats so that everyone can enjoy receiving announcements about events and campus information.

In this article, our focus is on best practices for designing accessible email for the vision-impaired and those relying on screen reading devices, including synthesized speech and keyboard-only access. Providing information in different formats is the best plan.

Intercampus Email Protocols

When you create an email message for campus distribution, make sure you provide it in multiple formats using the principles of Universal Design for Learning. When including artwork, place all the text within that graphic within the email body, so that everyone will be able to read it. It is best to use standard san serifs fonts like Arial and Veranda with black text on a white background. As long as you keep a text version of the event notice in the email, you can then attach alternative formats as attachments to your email message. Word, PDF, and JPG or other graphic versions of the event flier can help you reach the widest audience, and keep your email in compliance with state and federal laws.

Guide to building accessible html email

First of all, what constitutes an accessible email? To meet basic accessibility requirements, an email message must:

  • Maintain a logical reading order
  • Use heading elements
  • Include sufficient contrast between text and background colors
  • Provide text alternatives for images
  • Feature meaningful link text
  • Use a descriptive subject line

Maintain a logical reading order

Unlike web pages, HTML email messages and templates commonly include tables, as these are the most reliable way to create layouts that work across desktop, webmail and mobile email clients. If not planned and built thoughtfully, people who rely on keyboard-only access might not receive the content in the order intended. Screen readers, for example, read aloud tabular content from left-to-right and from top-to-bottom.

The image below shows the order in which each text paragraph would be read aloud if assembled in a table of two columns and two rows:

To preserve logical reading order, a better layout would be a table of two columns and one row, as shown in the image below:

This requirement is particularly important to keep in mind when creating responsive email layouts, especially where images and content are repositioned to allow for a comfortable reading experience on mobile devices.

Maintaining a single-column layout on all screens – regardless of size – reduces the likelihood of content being read by screen readers in either an incorrect order, or in a way in which the context of the content is unclear.

Adding headings

HTML heading elements – like <h1>, <table> etc. – are critical to ensuring hierarchy is conveyed to screenreader users, who may not be able to see them. Keep in mind that simply styling text to stand out, or look more important is not sufficient when creating a content hierarchy for assistive devices.

Include sufficient contrast between text and background colors

People with moderately low-vision or color deficiencies can be less sensitive to luminosity or color contrasts when viewing text and images in an email message. Therefore, it’s important to incorporate sufficient contrast between text and the background of an email message.

Apps like Color Oracle for OSX can be used to simulate a variety of color deficiencies and ensure you are providing enough contrast – not to mention, non-color based cues – for all email recipients to understand your email messages. Another tool called the Color Contrast Analyzer can also help check for this issue, and comes in both a Windows and OS X version

Provide text alternatives for images

All informative images must have an appropriate text alternative that conveys the meaning, or purpose of the image. Purely decorative images – such as ‘spacer’ images for preserving layouts – should carry an empty or null alt attribute (alt=””) to inform screen readers that the image is decorative and should be ignored.

For example, a company logo is an informative image and should feature a text alternative. In HTML email code, this can be done using the alt HTML attribute, to convey its meaning to screen reader users:

<img src=”https://www. monitorme.com/assets/uploads/logo.png” alt=”Monitor Me Services” />

 

Feature meaningful link text

It’s also important to convey the purpose of links using link text. This text informs the reader as to what will display when the link is followed and are often used for document navigation purposes by screen reading devices.

As a result, it’s recommended that generic text such as “click here” or “read more” be avoided, as these will offer little meaning, especially when read out of context by a screen reader. Instead, we recommend links in code like:

<a href=”http://…/link-recommendations.html”>read our recommendations for better links<a>.

Use a descriptive subject line

The subject line is the first text people will read, or have read to them by a screen reader. It should be meaningful, descriptive, concise and shouldn’t repeat the sender name. People with vision impairments rely on subject lines to determine whether an email message is relevant to their needs.

Checklist: Is your email accessible?

Use the following checklist based on W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to make sure your email is accessible prior to sending to campus.

Tables are optimized to preserve logical reading order Circle Yes or No
Heading Elements Used Y   N
Text Color contrast is sufficient Y   N
Images have captions or alt attributes Y   N
Headings are used Y   N
Link text describes adequately where link leads to Y   N
For any graphics fliers or events posters the email text contains all vital information. Y   N
Email content can be zoomed using Keyboard Shortcut (Alt +/- for pc & Command +/- for Mac) Y   N
Reading Order is logical Y   N
Subject line is concise and descriptive Y   N

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