Make Accessible Content

Student Accessibility Services strives for a fully accessible campus, including online and electronically. This page contains a number of useful links and articles that will help you start with some of the basics. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office at

Accessible Documents – what are they?

The term “accessible documents” is something that SAS uses regularly and you may be wondering what this means. An accessible document is any document (.Doc, .PDF, etc) that can be used by any person, regardless of barriers that may be in place as a result of disability or otherwise. For example, an accessible document would have visual contrast and an appropriate and comprehensible layout. It would also have proper tagging in place so that it is navigable with screen-reading software and readable by text-to-speech technology.

Producing accessible documents is incredibly important for students with disabilities as they will not have access to the materials otherwise. Accessible documents also provide added opportunities for studying and reading, especially for those with English as an additional language or those who have different learning styles. Production of accessible documents is generally quite simple and, in the case of most documents, will actually save you time and increase consistency within the document.

It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that the documents they are creating and providing are as accessible as possible in order to be as inclusionary as possible. Adding a few easy steps to your document-creating process will save you a lot of work in the event you have a student specifically requesting an accessible format. To learn how to make an accessible .Doc or .PDF, or for tips to see if your current documents are accessible, please check out the following instructions provided by SAS. All features that make a document accessible are features within word processors that should be used for proper document production.

Unfortunately, these features are often overlooked!

Here are some points to consider to ensure that you are not providing inaccessible documents:

  • NEVER provide a document that is a scanned piece of paper – a scan of a document is an image. Therefore, there is no text or structure that any assistive technologies may be able to read. Instead, please provide an accessible source document – this is much easier than remediating a completely inaccessible one!
  • Don’t use images as text - using a picture to convey text can cause readability issues for those with a cognitive disability and wreak havoc on a person with a visual disability using a screen reader.
  • Don’t use a similar colour font to the background - use the highest colour contrast as possible.
  • Don’t just use font colour, size, and alignment to indicate titles and headings – use the format styles to ensure there is document structure embedded into the document.

The following areas of digital accessibility are being worked on. For support in this area, please contact SAS.

  • Social Media
  • UM Learn
  • Web Accessibility