BMCC’s Office of Accessibility
What Makes Materials “Accessible,” Anyway?
Materials become accessible to more people when they are created with an awareness of the varying abilities of users. For example, a video without closed captioning may be completely inaccessible to someone who is deaf or hard of hearing. In another case, someone who uses a screen reader may not be able to access a PDF article that has not been scanned with optical character recognition (OCR) or alternative text (aka “alt text”) for images. OCR transforms a PDF into an indexed document with readable and discoverable text, and alt text provides image descriptions for the user of a screen reader.
Instructors can improve the accessibility of course materials by running simple accessibility checks, OCR scanning, and adding alt text to images used in digital files. By improving the accessibility of materials for students with disabilities, instructors actually make the materials more accessible for everyone. For more information on this subject, explore the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guidelines.
- Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible (Microsoft)
- PowerPoint Accessibility (WebAIM)
- Microsoft Word: Creating Accessible Documents (WebAIM)
- Create accessible PDFs (Microsoft)
- Accessibility Quick Guide [PDF] (Portland Community College)
- Accessibility Do’s and Don’ts (Brooklyn College)
Explore the CUNY-wide Accessibility Toolkit for Open Educational Resources (OER), created by CUNY librarian Amy Wolfe, for detailed information about what makes materials accessible or not. This toolkit includes accessibility resources for navigating various platforms, as well as guidelines and resources for both creating accessible OER and evaluating the accessibility of open or zero-cost materials.
OER Course Redesign Workshop Materials
These materials were used in the OER Course Redesign Workshop in January 2020 and are especially helpful if you want to ensure that your syllabus created in Microsoft Word is accessible.
- Screen Reader User’s Experience and MS Word [YouTube]
“This video demonstrates the experience of a screen reader user who encounters an accessible Word document versus an inaccessible one.”
- Accessibility + Universal Design for Learning [Google Slides]
These slides give an overview of the legal obligation to make materials accessible, UDL, and the use of Microsoft Word’s Accessibility Checker.
- Best Practices in Word Document Accessibility [Google Docs]
- The BCcampus Open Education Accessibility Toolkit – 2nd Edition
The goal of this widely used guide is “to provide resources for each content creator, instructional designer, educational technologist, librarian, administrator, and teaching assistant to create a truly open textbook—one that is free and accessible for all students.”
- California Community Colleges Accessibility Center
The CCC Accessibility Center provides information on alternative media, creating accessible web pages, and PDF accessibility.
- Complex Images for All Learners: A Guide to Make Visual Content Accessible [PDF]
This handbook was designed and developed by Supada Amornchat of Western Illinois University as part of a master’s degree in Instructional Design and Technology.
- UDL on Campus: Universal Design for Higher Education
This site provides information on applying the UDL framework in higher education.
- Web Accessibility Guidelines handbook [PDF] (Portland Community College)
This handbook provides guidelines for making accessible PDFs, Word Docs, Google Slides, and more, as well as information specifically focused on creating accessible math and science materials.
A Personal Look at Accessibility in Higher Education (video)
This video highlights the experiences of students and faculty with disabilities in higher education.
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