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Accessible learning materials



Learning materials such as documents, videos and audios should be accessible for all and compatible with assistive or adaptive technology (e.g. screen reading program) as well as with learning methods used by students with special needs.

For making the documents such as word and pdf-files accessible requires checking e.g. the reading order of the text (avoid horizontal scrolling), headings, tags, alt-texts and document name. Headings should be short and provide clear outline of the content. All images and visual should have informative and meaningful alternative text so that the importance of the content becomes understandable also for the people who can’t see the screen. (W3C 2022; Microsoft 2022.)

Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Word provide tools for creating accessible documents and reviewing the content and flagging the possible accessibility issues. Accessibility of the PDF-documents can be checked with Accessibility Check Tool in Adobe Acrobat Pro (Adobe 2022). Accessibility of the Word documents can be checked with Accessibility checker. Accessibility of the documents can be also tested with immersive reader to check how it sounds like. (Microsoft 2022.)

Adding subtitles or captions for the online lectures and other video material makes them more accessible by providing a possibility to see the dialog and other sounds. Subtitles are used for transcribing or translating the speech when the sound is available but the dialogue is not understood e.g. because of a foreign language. Subtitles do not include important sounds, only the dialog. Captions are used for transcribing or translating the speech or other important audio elements when the sound is not available or audible e.g. for people who are hard of hearing. Captions can be visible only when the user requests them. If video includes visual information that is needed to understand the content,there should be a transcript including description of the visual information as well as audio description of the visual information. (W3C 2021.)

Audio only files such as podcast and audio lectures should include text-transcript or other text-based material of the content. Media player used should be operable by keyboard so that buttons such as play, pause, stop and rewind are accessible. Controls should be clearly labelled so that they are easy to understand with screen reader. (Steenhout & Egert 2022.)

Books required as learning material e.g. for exams should have e-book or audio book alternatives.

Adobe 2022. Create and verify PDF accessibility (Acrobat PRO)

Microsoft 2022. Make your Word documents accessible to people with disabilities.

Steenhout, N. & Egert, E. 2022. How to implement podcast accessibility.

W3C 2021. Making Audio and Video Media Accessible.

W3C 2022. Writing for Web Accessibility.