Creating Accessible Content (How-to)

Drake University is committed to providing the resources for improving accessibility and inclusion of the teaching and learning services we provide. Improved accessibility supports usability regardless of age, ability, or situation. This does not just support users with disabilities, but those with multiple devices, language learners, needs, and those learning in environments that are not conducive to traditional approaches of learning (videos with captions help those with anyone sleeping in close proximity to their learning environment). 

What are the Main Features of Accessible Content?

  • Accessed on any device (or responsive) including computers, tablets, and Internet capable mobile devices.
  • Using best practices around building accessible content.
  • Formatted appropriately and optimized including, and not limited to:
    • Document formatting:
      • headers, bullet points, numbered lists, color contrast, etc. 
      • ensure that tables have column headers
      • use descriptive hyperlinks
    • Images, Charts, Tables, Audio, or Video formatting:
      • alt or descriptive text on embedded images, charts, and tables
      • audio and video have text-based choice available
        • Examples include: transcripts, closed captioning, alternate text based resources (accessible articles) that are equivalent to the image, audio, or video provided as an alternate choice for learning the content
  • NOT a scanned image of a book or other analog document
  • Use a permalink for content from Drake University Library's digital resources
  • Use built in accessibility checkers where available

Best Practices

  • Check the interaction of any user devices or accommodation before publishing.
  • Keep content native to the platform in which it is used (e.g., create documents in Blackboard Learn Ultra rather than uploading documents from Word, use Word instead of converting to PDF or opening it with Google Docs).
  • Use the Equation Editors when working with mathematics or science materials involving equations.
  • Accessible PDFs must be screen readable (not a scanned, image based document) and tagged (see PDF details below).
  • Perform an accessibility check on received materials and correct any errors.
  • Make materials shared electronically (via screen) available electronically to students.


Creating Accessible Documents (Word, Google Docs, PowerPoints, Websites, Blackboard Documents, etc.)


Headers: Documents and Presentation Software

Microsoft tools have the built-in heading Styles for you to use easily. It is important to organize headings in the prescribed logical order and not to skip heading order.  For example, Heading 1 is used for main content headings, Heading 2 is used for major section headings.

  1. Select the heading text in document.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Styles group, select a heading style, for example, Heading 1 or Heading 2.

Headers: Blackboard Learn Ultra and Websites

Headings can be added from the text editor box when creating/editing items, assignments, test questions, discussions, etc.

  1. Select the text you want to be a heading.
  2. In the “Text” editor toolbar, select the Paragraph (Format) dropdown. If you do not see Paragraph (Format) icon, select Show More icon (usually a down facing carrot/arrow that looks like an oversized "V").
  3. In the dropdown select Sub heading 1or Sub heading 2.
    Note: The Heading selection from the drop down is the same heading level as the title of the item.

Bullet Points and Numbered Lists

Make sure you use the appropriate list type to get your message across.

  • Use the tool in the text editor tool bar to make bullet points and numbered lists makes lists screen reader friendly.
  • If there is no order necessary, use the dot based bullet points. 
  • If there is a required order or count, please use the numbered list option.


  • Tables should have a caption (or title) at the top.
  • Tables should be built with Header rows

Descriptive Hypertext for Links

If you use the URL itself or Click Here texts as a hyperlink, users may not comprehend it. You need to provide hyperlink texts that show the full title of the destination page.  For example, use “Visit the University of Houston website” instead of or Click Here.

Below are only visual examples. They are not clickable links to any additional information.

  • Whereas a good visual example would visually look like the following:  "More details around Accessibility in Word documents."
  • A poor visual example for descriptive hypertext on a website link would look like: "Click here."
Creating Accessible PDF's from Documents (Word, Google Docs, PowerPoints, etc.)

Add accessibility tags to PDF files to make sure that people who use screen readers and other assistive technologies can read and navigate a document with Tables of Contents, hyperlinks, bookmarks, alt text, and so on. Accessibility tags also make it possible to read the information on different devices, such as large type displays, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and mobile phones. In Office for Windows, Office for Mac, and Office for the web, you can add tags automatically when you save a file in PDF format.

Learn the steps to Create Accessible PDFs using Microsoft Word. 

Checking the Accessibility of PDF Documents in Adobe Acrobat DC

If you have existing PDFs that are not images, there are a few tricks to help make your existing PDFs more accessible. 

To check the accessibility of your PDF document, we recommend using the following tools in Adobe Acrobat DC(link is external).

Note: These steps pertain to features found in Adobe Acrobat DC, not Adobe Reader.

  1. Run the Make Accessible Action Wizard
  2. Add text to your document
  3. Use a document title
  4. Set the document language
  5. Add alternative text for images
  6. Add a tag structure
  7. Recognize form fields, add tooltips to form fields, and add tags to form fields
  8. Use table headers
  9. Check the reading order
  10. Check for appropriate color contrast
Creating Accessible PDF's from Images (scanned documents/texts)

This requires the full version of Adobe Acrobat Pro and Drake University does NOT carry an institution wide license for this software. Find a digital version of the text and get an accessible copy from the digital version or an alternate resource that is accessible covering the equivalent content.

Uploading Files to Blackboard Learn Ultra that Open in Browser
  • The preference is that if you can author content directly within Blackboard, it is easier to access than adding an attachment.
  • If you must add an attachment, ensure the attachment is accessible (not an image, if possible) and that it fits the requirements of the information provided on the Add Files, Images, Audio, and Video article. The instructions for adding content so it can be read directly in the course are also included in the aforementioned article. 


Adding Alt Text to Images

Alt text should be added to all images in any document, presentations you plan to post to the web (PowerPoint), website, or Blackboard Learn Ultra course. 

  • Alt text is an accessibility requirement and stands for "alternative text."
  • Alt text is a clear description of what is shown in the image. You do not need to include the words "image" or "picture" as a part of the alt text. Screen readers do this automatically.
  • Alt text is not the name of the file and do not include the file type e.g. .png, .jpg, .gif, etc.
  • Alt text entry is available in image properties no matter what software/cloud service you are using.
  • You might also have a property that allows you to mark an image as "decorative." The "decorative" option means that the image will be skipped when a screen reader is used. If the image is required content for the page, please make sure to add alt text and do not mark it as decorative. 

Example of alt text usage: 

  • Example image:

Zoom software logo



  • Good example alt text for the image above: "Zoom software logo"
  • Inappropriate example alt text for the image above: "zoom.png"

Video/Audio (Multimedia)

Finding Existing Videos with Captions or Transcriptions

If you have the option, confirm that videos you create or choose as part of your content have 2-3 of the following features:

  • Automated closed captioning upon creation
  • Transcription services
  • The ability to show or hide Closed Captioning
  • The ability to change the speed of the video replay
Creating Videos Captions or Transcripts

If you create the video, it is your responsibility to review the automatic Closed Captioning for accuracy.

Automated Closed Captioning options are available with:

  • Drake's license of Panopto (ITS supported)
  • Free YouTube services (ITS does not support YouTube video creation)

Ensuring Closed Captioning Accuracy:

  • Panopto instructions for How to Edit or Delete Captions.
  • If you upload a Zoom recording to Panopto, automated captions will be added to your video (see above for editing captions).

Additional Resources


After you have worked to review and make your resources more accessible for users, and, you would like someone else to review your resources as a final check, submit a Custom Technology Consultation/Training request and choose the option for "Accessibility Review."


Article ID: 143485
Mon 5/23/22 4:52 PM
Fri 12/9/22 11:14 AM