Creating Accessible Course Materials

Guidelines for Creating Accessible Instructional Materials

Under both State and Federal laws, the College must provide students who have print-disabilities with alternative format accommodations.  The legal standard is that instructional materials must be available in an accessible format at the same time, and with the same ease of use that materials are provided to students without disabilities. In order to ensure compliance and meet your responsibilities, please read the guidelines below.

E-format (Electronic format and Digital Content)

Required Texts:

  • AccessAbility Services is responsible for finding textbooks in alternative format for approved students who request them.  Students request specific texts from AAS and provide proof of possession. In order to adhere to federal law, new deadlines require faculty to post books by July 1st for the fall semester. Please include the full title, author, publisher, edition, and ISBN-13 if available.
  • E-books and digital textbooks are not always accessible.  If you plan on using e-books or digital textbooks in your class, please send a link to the digital book to Emily Dean,, to test for accessibility.

Materials posted to Moodle:

  • Post all in-class handouts and Powerpoint slides to Moodle before class so that students with print disabilities may review the material before class. 
  • Starting with the best possible source document will positively impact the entire process of copying and scanning. Select readings from library databases or other appropriate sources that provide PDFs with selectable text or HTML documents.  Work with your LITS liaison to prepare course packets and online documents in accessible formats.

Best Practices for Creating Your Own Digital Documents

(Word documents and PowerPoint presentations):

  •  Use sans serif fonts whenever possible (e.g. Arial, Tahoma, Verdana) and if you plan to project the document during class, be certain the font size is sufficient to be readable from all areas of the room. It is best to test this in your particular classroom at the start of the semester.
  • Utilize default auto layouts in PowerPoint that best fit the purpose of your slide content. Avoid using text boxes.  Screen readers cannot read text within text boxes. You can check your content and reading order by viewing the PowerPoint presentation in Outline View.
  • Use effective color contrast between background and text in PowerPoint presentations. Avoid these color combinations: red/blue, red/green, dark green/black, blue/black, shades of gray.
  • Don’t use color alone to convey meaning. 
  • Consider providing written feedback in digital format.

Best Practices for Accessible Scanned Electronic Reading:

  • Post documents as PDFs.
  • Scanned readings should be clear of underlining, handwritten notes, and highlighting other than the color yellow.
  • Use custom size settings and scan one page at a time, producing a 1-page rather than a 2-page spread.
  • Scan in black and white for text only and gray-scale for text with images.  Never scan in color as is produces very large files.
  • Press down on the spine of the book while scanning to avoid shadows in the margins.
  • Check your scanned document for cut-off text, shadows in the margins, and missing page numbers.
  • In Adobe Professional, delete any unnecessary facing pages that were captured in scanning process.  Rotate any pages that are sideways or upside down.
  • PDF documents should include “selectable text”.  In Adobe Professional, OCR documents to recognize text in image-only PDFs.
  • Be consistent with filenames on Moodle to ensure they match the syllabus reference.  Recommended format: author’s last name and title.
  • Ensure that your document posted to Moodle is right-side-up.

 Other materials

  •  When using publisher content via CD, DVD, or a publisher’s web portal, please contact the publisher and inquire about the accessibility of the interface and content before implementing the software in your courses. If you need assistance, please contact Emily Dean at or extension 2524.

Large Print:

  •  Ensure that all printed handouts are provided in enlarged font for students with this accommodation. This includes the course syllabus, reading assignments, quizzes, exams, and tests.  Enlarged font can be coordinated by providing magnified text on larger-sized paper, or providing the handout in a digital format that the student may magnify in class on a laptop.  Please speak with the student about their preference.
  • Please read aloud anything that you write on the board.
  • If your course involves lab activities, please ensure that equipment, chemicals, instructions, and warning signs are in large print. Contact AccessAbility Services if you need assistance providing this accommodation. Please discuss any necessary safety procedures with the student in your class.


  • The audio content of video materials and any audio files will need to be captioned and/or transcribed for students with this accommodation, including any videos that you create.
  • Commercially produced videos, DVDs, as well as publisher-produced media may already have this available via subtitles.  If you are using a video that does not provide captions, please contact the video’s production company and ask about a captioned version.
  • If captions or transcripts are not available, we will need to produce transcripts or captions in-house.  This can be a very time consuming process, and if not feasible, will require a plan to provide an equal alternative form of access to the content.  Please contact AccessAbility Services with any questions or concerns about captioning.

 We are here to help!

  • Send materials to be scanned to DAPS in the library.  DAPS requires a 2-week lead-time and can be reached at:
  • Work with your LITS liaison to help find good quality copies of your readings and build your course Moodle site.
  • Email/Call/Skype Emily Dean, the Technology Access Coordinator for support., X2524.