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Accessibility is a part of content creation: What does it mean in practice?


We all are content producers. Everyone of us makes content that we publish online. Examples of online content are e. g. news here in intranets, files shared with others in OneDrive, content in Moodle courses, and even social media updates.

When you publish something online, keep in mind the diversity of people. Please ensure that as many people as possible within your audience is able to access your content. As a positive side effect, search engines work better with accessible content: Accessible content is naturally optimised for search engines.

Checklist for accessible texts:

  1. Give your texts descriptive titles. Use ready-made heading styles whenever possible. Use subheadings generously in longer texts: Use them hierarchically, don’t skip heading levels.
  2. If you can, set the language of your document to represent the content (for example, this is possible in office applications). If you can, mark the language of the parts to match their language if the language changes within the document.
  3. Use proofreading.
  4. A good link text alone tells you where the link is pointing to. So “here” and “this” are not good link texts! Better links would be, for example, “register for course X” or “learn more about X”.
  5. Give your images alternate descriptions. A good alternative description is one, that you could use to completely replace the image: If the matter has already been explained in full in the body text, an empty description will suffice, meaning that you can mark the image as a decorative image if your tool allows it. See Alternative presentation for an image.
  6. Make sure there is enough contrast between the text and its background. Most bright colours (such as Oamk’s orange and the University of Oulu’s pink) need e.g black as a pairing colour, as with white, the contrast is not sufficient. See Good contrast improves the legibility of text and graphs.
  7. Also, make sure there are sufficient contrasts in your charts and diagrams.
  8. Colours should not be the only means of conveying information. Please use colours to emphasize information, but only as an additional way.
  9. Use emojis sparingly in social media, and do not use them as bullets in lists, at least without checking how they work for people using assistive technology. For example, for a screen reader user 🔹 is read as “small blue diamond”.
  10. Prefer other formats instead of PDF, unless when PDF is a required format, for example due to archiving.
    • If you have to use PDF files, use at least 12 pt font size, align the text to the left and avoid justifying the text to both margins. Please don’t use narrow/condensed fonts in the body text, as they are difficult to read. See Easy readability for better understanding.

If your tool has a function for accessibility checking, use it. However, please be aware that automatic accessibility checks cannot catch all the possible errors. Thus passing an automated test does not yet mean that the document is accessible: A tool can check if the images have alternative descriptions in place, but it can’t check if those descriptions are good enough or not.


  1. Use tables only when you want to display pieces of information that have some sort of relationship: don’t use tables just for layout.
  2. Give descriptive headings to your tables
  3. Keep tables as simple as possible: For example, you should consider splitting nested tables into multiple tables.
  4. Every table should have a header row.
  5. If your table spreads on two pages or more, make sure the header row of that table is visible on each of those pages.
  6. One cell = one piece of information.
  7. Avoid merging cells.
  8. Write an alternative description for your table. (For example, in Word, you can find the place for the alt text under Table properties.)

Mathematical formulas

Mathematical formulas are still tricky from the accessibility point of view. In universities, a typical solution is to offer LaTeX code as an alternative to the formula, which is an unambiguous way to present the formula without misunderstandings.

Write accessible math formulae fast with TeX.

Accessibility of videos and audio files

The accessibility of videos and audio files is an issue of its own. Producing videos or podcasts means taking care of the accessibility of the audio, the visuals, captioning and providing text alternatives to audio-only content.

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