Create accessible learning content

Accessibility is the practice of making your content usable by as many people as possible. People often think of making content accessible for people with disabilities, but the practice of making content accessible impacts so many more groups, including those using mobile devices, those who may have slow network connections, and so many more. 

To make your course content more accessible, we’ve provided some general recommendations for you to consider while you’re creating your content. This includes your video content but also any additional resources that you may provide your students such as any images, PDFs, spreadsheets, coding exercises, etc.

If you’re interested in finding instructions for specific software or applications (e.g. Microsoft Office or Adobe) please check out these cheat sheets.

 

 

 

Use clear and concise language

  • Use the simplest language appropriate for your content
  • Use illustrations, icons, etc. to supplement text
  • Check spelling, grammar, and readability
  • Be careful with abbreviations, jargon, complex language, or anything that might be confusing to the reader
  • Avoid complicated metaphors and idioms
  • Figures of speech or slang can be hard for non-native language speakers to interpret or understand. Assume that two-thirds of your learners will know your language as a second language.
  • Avoid using ALL CAPS as it can be DIFFICULT TO READ.

 

Allow time for consumption

It’s important to not speak too quickly. Learners who prefer a faster pace can speed up the video using our playback tools. When you speak at a steady and consistent pace, it allows for learners who might be behind to catch up. 

Whenever you display text or graphics on screen, make sure you leave the text or graphic on screen for enough time so that people with impaired sight or a lower reading ability have the appropriate amount of time to take in all the information.  

Ensure that any text and graphics you display are large enough to be read by people with partial vision or for those watching from a mobile device.

 

Explain what you’re doing

As you plan your lectures, remember that some students may be listening to your course, or watching from their mobile phone and may occasionally look away from the screen, and some students may be blind or have impaired-vision. Also, remember, that while you’re an expert, some of your students might not be familiar with the tools that you use in your course. 

You can improve your lecture by explaining what is on the screen, using clear, precise language. This repetition will help to engage your students to understand the content better. Remember, some of these concepts may be new to your students or confusing, and some may not be watching what you’re doing on their screen. Also, it’s best to avoid language that’s too casual or colloquial as it may not be helpful. 

For example:

  • Instead of saying,“So I just go like that and it’s easily fixed”, you could say something like “I select the entire paragraph with my mouse, then I hit the ‘Left Align’ button to fix it. I also could have found this choice under the Format menu.”
  • Instead of saying, “I’ll want to go line by line here, and boom, now I’m in the routine!” you could say “I’m going to step through this code by choosing F7 after I hit the breakpoint in that routine. I could also have chosen the Step Into Button, right here on the panel.”

 

Describe images

It’s a best practice to explain the images during your course. Do not use descriptions that rely only on sight (e.g., “click on the square”, “the box on the left side of the page”, “The big blue text”). You should explain what is happening in the image – this is helpful to users who may be visually impaired, or may only be listening to your course, and is also a great practice in instructional design, as it allows students who are following along to see the image and also hear about it to increase their comprehension. It may be helpful for you to imagine that the learner has turned their head away for a moment, or that the image has been printed out in black & white.

 

Use a clean layout and design

Ensure the layout of your resources and slides are simple, clean, and uncluttered. It should be clear how to navigate your content.

When you’re creating downloadable resources that are heavy with text, try to keep your copy organized and chunked together in shorter paragraphs so that it’s easier to scan the content.

If you are sharing your computer screen, make sure to keep your background uncluttered. If you have too many files or an intense wallpaper image, this visual might be too complex and confusing and your students may have a hard time focusing.

 

Use true headings

Organize your content using true headings (sometimes labeled as “H1” “Heading 1”, etc.). The document title should be a first-level heading, the next level should be second-level, etc. Avoid skipping levels (e.g., jumping from first-level to third-level headings).

 

Examples:

Page Title (Heading 1)

Section Title (Heading 2)

Add text here.

Sub-section (Heading 3) 

Add text here. 

 

 Use bulleted lists

  • To make it easier for users on a screen reader, use true bulleted and numbered lists rather than using the tab key or an asterisk to create your list. Screen readers will read the tab and asterisk for what they are. For example, the screen reader will read “tab” or “asterisk” instead of “bullet point”.
  • Use true columns instead of other methods (e.g., do not use the “Tab” key to create columns one line at a time).
  • For long documents, provide a table of contents so users on a screen reader can understand the structure of the content easily.

 

Use strong color contrast

Make sure that color contrast is strong, especially between text and background. This is also true for images that include text.

If you use color, please refer to the WebAIM Color Contrast Checker to ensure you’re using adequate color contrast and accessibility-friendly colors. This is to ensure there’s a strong enough contrast between the background the text is on and the color of your text. 

 

Please note, it’s best to use the contrast checker for your specific use-case.

We checked the following colored text listed below on a white background.

These colors fail the checker and should be avoided on a white background (their score is under 4.5:1): 

Examples of colors that fail the contrast checker and should be avoided: Yellow, Pale Green, Orange, Pink and Red.

These colors below are good choices as they provide good contrast on a white background: (4.5 to 7) 

Examples of colors that are good choices that provide good contrast: Blue, Dark Green, and Purple 

Finally, the colors listed below provide the best contrast on a white background: (Over 7) 

Examples of colors that provide best contrast: Burnt Orange, Very Dark Gray and Black

Be careful using data tables

  • Use the simplest table structure possible. Be careful with spanned rows or columns and avoid multiple levels of table headers. This is columns or rows that have been merged — these can be confusing to explain to students and for screen readers.
  • If possible, avoid using tables for visual layout.

 

 

Multimedia 

Provide appropriate alternative text for images in your documents, slide presentations, etc.

Alternative text (alt text) provides a textual alternative to non-text content on web pages. For those using a screen reader, this text is read aloud.

  • Many tools allow you to provide alternative text for images. These boxes are sometimes labeled with phrases like “alt text,” “alternative,” or even “description.” If you are presented with a field, please provide alternative text.
  • Alternative text should present the content and function, not necessarily a description of an image. If you had to remove the image, what text would you put in its place?
  • If an image has no relevant content, its function is decorative, or the alternative text is provided in nearby text, then it’s best to leave the alternative text empty (some tools have an option for “blank” or “empty”). 
  • Avoid words like “picture of,” “image of,” or “link to.”
  • Try to use the fewest number of words possible.

 

Example alternative text for images

On a couch sits a boy on a smartphone, a girl on a tablet, and a girl on a laptop.

Default Alt Text (name of image): kids-tech-revised.jpg
Many times, the copy will default to the image name which  may not be helpful.
Modified Alt Text: On a couch sits a boy on a smartphone, a girl on a tablet, and a girl on a laptop.

 

Ensure links are descriptive

  • Avoid phrases like “Click here”, “Here”, “More”, “More information”, “Read more”, and “Continue.”
  • Avoid using URLs as links, unless the document is intended to be printed or if the URL is relevant content. Otherwise, it’s best to embed links.

 

Videos

  • Use adequate font size, usually no smaller than 10 points. Remember, many of your students will be taking your course on mobile devices. Ensure the font size is large enough to be seen on smaller screens. 
  • Describe any images you used in the videos so visually impaired learners or those who are only listening to your course can follow along.
  • Avoid using fast flashing content as it can cause seizures in some viewers and is difficult for people to keep up with if they have impaired sight. As a best practice, do not use more than 3 flashes in a one second period.


Add captions

  • Videos and live audio should have captions and a transcript. A transcript is sufficient for archived audio.
  • Captions should accurately reflect what is said in the videos, including fillers and stumbles, as correcting these in captions can create cognitive dissonance for users who are listening to the audio and reading the captions.
  • Udemy provides automatically generated-captions and transcripts using speech recognition technology for courses in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, but there is room for error. It’s best to ensure you double check that the auto-generated captions are correct by manually editing any errors or typos that may have occurred once the captions are generated. Learn more about Udemy’s Auto-Generated Captions, here.Note: Errors in auto-generated subtitles are more common in technical courses, which reference acronyms the speech recognition technology used to create the captions may not recognize. Learn how to use the captions editing tool to correct auto-generated subtitles.

 

Allow time for learners to consume your content

Beginning instructors are often told not to speak too quickly.  Flustered and confused learners can catch up when the instructor speaks at a steady, consistent pace.  Learners who want to go faster can simply speed up the video. 

In a related note, whenever you are displaying text or graphics on the screen, it needs to stay on the screen long enough so that people with impaired sight or a lower reading ability have time to take in all the information.

Always ensure that any text and graphics on your screen are large enough to be read by people with partial vision.

 

Avoid fast flashing content

Fast flashing content should always be avoided as it can cause seizures and it’s difficult for people to keep up if they have impaired sight. To avoid seizures, do not use more than 3 flashes in a 1 second period. 

 

 

Additional resources on accessibility

 

Please also visit our Accessibility Statement for information on Udemy’s commitment to accessibility and how to contact us with any concerns or suggestions related to the accessibility of our services.

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