Content Creation Tools and Platforms
It is not enough to understand accessibility principles. You must be able to apply these principles using the tools like word processors and text editors that you rely on to add content to your website. Almost all common content creation tools allow you to do things like add alternative text to images or create a heading structure, but the way this is implemented is different in almost every tool. This page outlines some of the most common tools and provides links to more detailed articles on how to leverage their accessibility features.
The National Center on Disability and Access to Education (NCDAE) has created a series of printable one-page “cheatsheets” to assist anyone who is creating accessible content in common tools like Word, PowerPoint, Acrobat, and others.
Microsoft Office—Microsoft Word is probably the most common program used to write content that will end up on the web. It has good support for basically all the principles outlined above, though they only support the accessibility of simple tables.
- Office Accessibility Video Training (Microsoft) – A series of videos for creating more accessible files in Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and even Outlook. Note that some of the tasks in these videos require the newest version of Office—Office 365. We recommend using this version if possible. Microsoft regularly adds accessibility improvements.
G Suite—Google Docs, and the rest of Google’s office suite, does not have quite as strong accessibility support as Microsoft Office. But you can do most of the essential tasks like creating headings and adding alternative text to images.
- Make your document or presentation more accessible (Google) – A quick overview of accessibility features in Google Docs.
LibreOffice—This free suite of office tools has accessibility support that is comparable to Microsoft Word.
- How to create accessible LibreOffice files - A detailed guide to creating accessible documents in LibreOffice Writer (word processing) and Impress (presentation). Instructions are available for both Windows and Mac users.
Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) has created a wealth of detailed resources on general accessibility concepts as well as guidance for specific tools like Word, PowerPoint, Acrobat, and Canvas.
A WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor is a program that allows you to write or edit content so that the way it looks in the editor will be reflected in the final web page. Also called “rich text” or “content” editors, they are often used with a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal. The CMS controls the way a website looks and behaves, and the editor is used to create or update the content within a webpage.
- Accessibility Support in CKEditor—CKEditor is a very popular editor used in Drupal Joomla. This article outlines support for users with technology and how to use the available accessibility checker.
- TinyMCE Accessibility—Another popular text editor used in Canvas and for many years in WordPress (sometimes called the Classic Editor).
- Regarding Accessibility in Gutenberg—Outlines many of the accessibility features in the current WordPress "block" editor. It also identifies several existing accessibility issues, mostly within the editor itself.
Desktop publishing programs are used to control the design and layout of a document, usually for print. They often have additional accessibility issues. Because they focus on appearance, there is often a disconnect between the way a document looks and the way it is structured or sequenced. While it is usually possible to address these issues, it is not usually as straightforward as it is in a word processor or WYSISYG editor.
- Adobe InDesign accessibility—Shows how to map InDesign Paragraph Styles to PDF accessibility tags, adding alternative text to images, and other techniques.
- Microsoft Publisher—Outlines how to add alternative text to images, correct reading order issues, and convert to PDF. Publisher 2019 and 365 also support adding headings using Heading Styles.
- QuarkXPress 2018 Supports Tagged PDFs—Provides steps for adding headings and alternative text and promises support for other structures like tables, lists, and links.
It is often easier to create a main version of these types of files directly in your website with a link to a printable PDF option. If the main version presents all the same information, including meaningful images, the printable version does not have the same accessibility requirements.
For many organizations, social media, like Facebook or Instagram, is an important way to deliver information. While many social media platforms have accessibility issues, almost all of them are making improvements. For example, almost all social media platforms allow you to add alternative text to images.
- Accessible Social Media—Explains common tasks like adding alternative text in Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms.
- 9 Best Practices to Make Social Media Accessible to Everyone—Includes guidance on important but less obvious topics like hashtags, emoji, and inclusive language.
Social media often relies heavily on images and videos to convey information, so you will need to pay close attention to alternative text and captions.