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Creating accessible documents

This is a suggested baseline for creating teaching materials which are accessible to neurodiverse students:

  • Use plain English as much as possible (Guides are available online from the Plain English Campaign)
  • Avoid dense text – use 1.5 spacing where possible and ensure clear spacing between paragraphs. Remember, bullet points are more easily accessible than complex sentences
  • Ensure there is a high contrast between your text colour and background – think about how legible your presentation/document might be if printed, or viewed from the back of a lecture theatre
  • Use a sans serif font such as Arial, Helvetica, Verdana or Tahoma. Minimum 12pt font size for documents, and 18pt font size for PowerPoint.
  • Avoid fully-justified text (which aligns to both the left and right edges), as it creates rivers of white space and slows reading.
  • Avoid italicised text – it is more difficult to read on a screen.
  • Avoid CAPITALISED text – IT IS MORE DIFFICULT TO READ.
  • Use bold text for emphasis.
  • Only use underlines for links.
  • Take care to create accessible PDFs (where the text can be still be copied and pasted, rather than when the text has been converted into an image). Using the ‘Save as Adobe PDF’ option in Office should ensure this.
  • Add key information PowerPoint slides into the ‘Notes’ area
  • For media, try to provide alternative format as well – so text descriptions for images, and captions/transcripts for video
  • Open links in the same window (unless they are to help fill in a form).
  • Don’t use ‘Click here’ but describe where the link leads.
  • End every bullet point with a full stop, or semi-colon.
  • Ensure that colour is not the only means of conveying information.
  • Use headings in the correct order – if you create a heading structure properly in Word, this will remain in place when you convert to PDF, and this structure significantly aids screen reading.
  • Avoid white paper (or overly thin paper) – cream or a pastel colour is a good choice.

These sources were consulted when creating this page:

UCL (2018) Accessibility https://wiki.ucl.ac.uk/display/UCLELearning/Accessibility#Accessibility-E-LearningBaseline(level1-required)

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