Accessible Documentation

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All materials created for the public by the DLF Digital Accessibility Group and shared between working group members must adhere to existing and evolving accessibility guidelines. This document outlines the major aspects of those guidelines that all communications should follow. We acknowledge that not everyone can be 100% up-to-date on all best practices, and we welcome any and all feedback about the accessibility of specific documents and materials.

Communication preferences[edit]

  • Accessibility for communication includes audio readers, screen readers, braille displays, e-ink or print materials, as well as material that can be easily machine-translated, either into a different format (embossed braille, etc.) or a different language. Machine-translation is not a replacement for proper translation into a different language, but is meant to only be used as a supplement.
  • Due to the nature of DLF communications, WCAG 2.1 AAA formatting can not be achieved--communications require reading ability more advanced than the lower secondary education level as well as education in specialty fields, and we are not always able to produce materials at a lower reading level. We strive for WCAG 2.1 AA compliance, and invite feedback on inaccessibility of any materials.
  • The preferred form of communication is in real text. Real text refers to the use of machine-readable human language text. Text should be easily copy-pasted, searchable and machine-translated.
  • HTML, Google Docs and Word docs are the preferred format.
  • Documents should include the proper headings, tags, and alt text/descriptive text for images.
  • When video is used, it should be captioned, and/or a written transcript be included. If the video relies primarily on visual information and not spoken word, an audio description should be included. If the video is simply a visual version of previous descriptive text, then audio description isn’t necessary; for example, a web page that gives descriptive instructions on how to edit a document may include a video showing the steps visually, and it doesn’t require an audio description.
  • Images should include descriptive text when appropriate, as well as short alt text. Decorative images and images that are described within the main text of the document don’t require an additional descriptive text caption. Decorative images should be marked as decorative, or given a null alt tag (alt="").
  • Documentation should present information in multiple formats in such a way that a user can follow the images, the videos, or the text individually and still be able to get the exact same information.
  • Email communications should be done in plain text or HTML.
  • Do not use color alone to denote meaning.
  • Minimum text size is 12. Preferred font is Arial or other san-serif font. However, we strive to create materials that can be reformatted to meet the specific needs of an individual, such as HTML or Word docs.

Guidelines by Format[edit]

Materials created on websites and social media[edit]

Proper HTML is the preferred format for publishing information to the wider DLF community, whether it is on a website or published through social media. All materials should follow these basic guidelines:

  • Websites for the working group should be produced to be WCAG 2.1 AA compliant, with proper headings, tags, and navigation.
  • Headers should be on their own line, not placed inline with other text.
  • Images should be on their own line, without text wrapped around it.
  • Lists of information should use the bulleted list (ul) or numbered list (ol) option, and not dashes or other types of visual (untagged) design.
  • Text should be reflowable. Do not use formatting that can be broken by changing the size of the text or the browser window.
  • Images should have descriptive text, especially if they are conveying information important to the document.
  • On social media, images and video should be described within the body of the post--for example, in the body of the tweet, instagram caption, or facebook post. For videos or times when full description is not appropriate or available for the social media platform, a link to the transcript/descriptive text should be included.

Materials created in Google Docs[edit]

As Google Drive is the primary form of documentation for the group, all materials created in Google Docs should follow these basic guidelines:

  • Documents should follow proper heading sequences.
  • All documents shared among the group should have editing enabled. Google Documents without editing enabled restricts its readability for screen readers and sometimes cause problems with keyboard access.
  • Headers should be on their own line, and not inline with other non-header text.
  • Images should be on their own line, and not inline with text.
  • Lists of information should use the bulleted list or numbered list option, and not dashes or other types of visual (untagged) design.
  • Images should have descriptive text, especially if they are conveying information important to the document (if it isn’t already described within the text of the document).
  • The final format of public-facing materials developed in Google Docs should be HTML or a Word doc.

Materials created in Word[edit]

Materials for web publication may be presented in Word instead of HTML, though HTML is preferred. Word documents can also be made available in addition to HTML. Word documents should follow these basic guidelines:

  • Documents created in Word should follow proper heading sequences, using the Styles setting in the Home ribbon.
  • Headers should be on their own line, and not inline with other non-header text.
  • Images should be on their own line, and not inline with text.
  • Lists of information should use the bulleted list or numbered list option, and not dashes or other types of visual (untagged) design.
  • Images should have descriptive text, especially if they are conveying information important to the document (if it isn’t already described within the text of the document).
  • At the least, Word documents should be run through the accessibility checker native to Word prior to being made public or shared with the group.

Materials shared in PDF[edit]

Documents are not created natively as PDFs; usually they are created in Word or other word processing applications. Information created and shared by working group members should be shared in its original mode, or in HTML/Word when appropriate. When information is shared in PDF form, the person sharing the document should strive to meet these basic guidelines:

  • (In the case of sharing research documents or articles) The person sharing the PDF should try to find a more accessible version created by the original publishers.
  • The document is properly titled, with the language identified.
  • The reading order should be set and make logical sense.
  • The document should be OCR’d, with headers and formatting properly tagged.
  • Images should have alt text or marked as decorative. It may be necessary to include supplemental descriptive information in order to ensure all working group members are receiving the exact same information.
  • At the least, PDFs should be run through the Adobe Acrobat accessibility checker prior to being made public or shared with the group.

Further Resources[edit]