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Skills Guides



Accessibility features

Operating systems

Most operating systems these days have accessibility features built into them. For instance:

Microsoft Office

Office 365 has a number of accessibility features, including dictation, reading aloud, and live subtitling.

It also has an accessibility checker to help you in the creation of accessible documents.

Google Docs & Slides

Google Docs and Google Slides have "Type with your voice", which enables you to dictate. Whilst not as accurate as some tools, it is quite reliable. It works in around 40 languages and is found under the “Tools” tab.

If you are using screen magnification software or braille conversion software, you will need to activate the accessibility settings in Google Docs. These options are under “Tools” then “Accessibility Settings”.

Google Chrome

If you are using Google Chrome as your default browser, there are a few settings which can improve access there. Font size can be changed by selecting the "⋮" menu at the end of the browser toolbar, and then selecting "Settings" from the drop down menu. Any changes you make to browser display would then be applied to webpages you visit through the browser (e.g. enlarging font across each website you visit), which should give a more consistent appearance between webpages, and can also help with migraines.

There are also some free Chrome extensions which might be of interest. We would only recommend using extensions and apps from trusted providers - those created by the manufacturers such as Google, Windows and Apple are typically the safest and most reliable for use with their products. Google has created free Chrome browser extensions which may be of use for a more comfortable online reading experience: 

Subtitling videos

Subtitles are blocks of transcribed text that appear at the bottom of a video. Whether you're deaf, struggling with an accent, watching the video in a distracting environment, or just don't have the sound on, subtitles allow you to read the speech and sound of the video.

For more information about subtitles — how to generate them, how to edit them, and how to incorporate them into a video — take a look at our Subtitling Skills Guide:

And here are some useful links to subtitling help for some of the most common platforms used at York:

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Creating accessible materials

If you're creating documents, there are a few pointers to easily improve accessibility:

  • Favour a sans-serif font – sans-serif fonts usually render clearer on digital displays.
  • Use a decent font size – as monitors get bigger, so do readable font sizes. Currently, anything less than 12pt is going to be quite small.
  • Caption images – provide explanatory text, either as a caption or as "alt text".
  • Ensure sufficient contrast between any text and the background. This will assist reading on screen generally but is especially important in ensuring accessibility for those with visual impairments or colour blindness.

Alt text

If you're making a webpage, presentation, or other digital artefact, and you're including images, you need to bear in mind that not everyone will be able to see those images. If an image is being used to convey information, you will need to find an additional, alternative way to convey that information to anyone who can't see the image. Webpages, email, social media, text documents, presentation software, and similar tools allow you to add alternative text (alt text for short) to describe your images.

How you describe an image depends on the role of the image, and on any duplication of information in the surrounding text. Here's a few examples of how different types of images might be described:

Accessible presentations

A look at the accessibility principles to consider when designing a slide deck presentation.

Accessibility links