Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Accessible Library Instruction

Text Documents

  • Accessible document formats include HTML and tagged, text-based pdf. Provide multiple formats if possible. HTML is often the most accessible option.
  • Do not use image based pdfs. If you can’t highlight text, the pdf is image based. Adobe Acrobat Pro has optical character recognition and can be used to make image-based pdfs more accessible.
  • If accessible materials are not available, share materials significantly in advance. This allows students with accommodations in place to request transcription.
  • Ensure that text and background in documents are high contrast.
  • Use easy-to-read fonts. Fonts should be sans-serif, monospaced, non-italicized. Popular disability friendly fonts include Arial, Verdana, Trebuchet, Helvetica, Courier, Computer Modern Unicode.
  • Consider providing information in additional media, such as video, audio, or image. Remember that video and audio should have transcripts and graphics should have alternate text descriptions.
  • If using Word, use built in headers, not visual changes like bolding or increasing text size, to indicate structure of document.
  • Use alt text with images. It is also acceptable to write a brief text description directly below an image. See Alt Text Tips for more information.
  • Using MS Word Tables is not recommended as the accessibility features are not robust and screen readers may have difficulty interpreting them.
  • Use ordered or unordered list formats. Use ordered lists only when order makes a difference (e.g. order of planets)
  • Bold text is acceptable to communicate emphasis. Avoid Italics, especially uppercase letters.
  • Use paragraph spacing options in word rather than the enter key if you are double spacing paragraphs.
  • Avoid using watermarks that could obscure text.
  • Don’t use text boxes in word as screen readers cannot see inside them.
  • Do not create columns of text using the space/ tab key. Instead, use the columns feature in word.


  • Use closed captions.
  • Provide a transcript.
  • Consider providing the information in additional media.
  • Consider what information is provided visually and through audio. Do they convey the same information? If not, consider how to convey this information in another way.
  • Advise students/ student interpreters beforehand if a video will be shown.
  • Try to use videos with a video description option, if available.


  • Provide a transcript
  • Consider providing the information in additional media


  • Flash presents many barriers and isn’t recommended.

Alt Text Tips

  • Use the HTML ALT attribute to describe meaningful images and buttons.
  • Capture the essential information communicated in image.
  • Leave ALT attribute empty for decorative or meaningless images. To do this, use empty quotation marks in place of alt text (“” This forces screen readers to ignore the image.
  • Keep descriptions succinct. Two sentences is generally considered the maximum. If it will take more to describe the image, consider linking to the information in another format instead. For example, link to a description or a screen reader friendly graph with the same information as a chart.
  • Do not repeat adjacent captions in text.
  • Do not include “image of”
  • Do include “screenshot of” for screenshots, “photo of” for photographs, “painting of” for paintings, etc.
  • Use punctuation for complete sentences.
  • If an image primarily conveys text, the alt text should capture the text verbatim
  • If an image serves as a link, the ALT text should describe the link destination.
  • Use ALT for each area of a map, as well as a description of the maps as a whole.
  • Don’t use audio files as a description of images as they may interfere with screen readers.