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Distance Education Accessibility Guidelines

Summary of Access Strategies for Digital Media

Access strategies for the various media categories focus on ensuring that text is properly formatted, proper textual equivalents are provided for non-textual content, and that all interactive controls are available to the end user.

The following table represents the basic access strategies for the primary categories of digital media: text, images, audio, video, and complex information. Depending on the specific type of media within these categories, different capabilities for enhancing access will exist, as shown in the table.


General Access Strategies by Media Type


Media Type Access Strategy
Text Make use of semantic markup capabilities to identify message elements such as headings, lists, page numbers, and footnotes. Use at least 11 pt fonts, and always ensure strong contrast between the font color and the background color. When possible, utilize a style sheet so the end user can determine how text will be rendered. HTML is generally accessible to most assistive technologies, such as screen readers and electronic reading systems.
Images Provide a textual equivalent that can be rendered into an accessible format via assistive technology for non-sighted viewers. Keep your descriptions concise and specific to the main point of the image. For complex images, describe the image using a caption or a separate text document that can be accessed via the 'longdesc' attribute.
Audio Provide a text transcript of the audio information that can be rendered into an accessible format via assistive technology for students with disabilities.
Video Captioning should be put in place (open or closed) in order to provide an equivalent experience for individuals who are unable to hear the audio content.
Complex Complex media, which includes applications, interactive content, a content management system, or a file containing multiple media types (i.e., text, images, audio, and video), must begin with the best practices for accessibility in each of the included media types. In addition, appropriate markup of headings and other content must be applied to each of the different media types from beginning to end. By applying appropriate markup and definition to content, as well as the document or delivery system it is contained within, assistive technologies can better process and interact with the complex media.