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Five Tips for Better Digital Classroom Accessibility

Find out how to make documents, slides, and other digital materials accessible to students with visual impairments.


Accessibility is a comprehensive topic; this provides a brief overview of selected strategies.

  • Accessibility benefits countless students, parents, and teachers with and without disabilities 


Disability and Accessibility

  • Students may or may not be identified with:

    • Learning disabilities
    • Dyslexia
    • Print and reading disabilities 
    • Blindness and vision impairment
    • Visual processing disorders
    • Visual fatigue, changes to visual functioning 
    • Convergence insufficiency
    • Visual motor skill and neurological processing considerations
    • Variations in color vision/blindness
    • Migraine and vestibular disorders
    • Sensory integration
    • Deaf and hard of hearing
    • Motor and mobility impairment 
    • Health issues
    • Many more
  • Parents, colleagues, other stakeholders


Tip 1: Provide actual text, not images of text

Ensure text is presented as text and not as an image capture of the text

  • Why: Text as images cannot be altered for font style, size, accessed by screen readers, braille displays, and other technologies 
  • Images of text are often blurry and do not allow for reasonable access with an OCR or language translator 
  • Requires significant accessibility “retrofitting” 

Example: Class Schedule (Actual Text) 


   Start Time

  End Time

  1   8:00   8:55
  2   9:00   9:55
  3   10:00   10:55
  4   11:00   12:30
  Lunch A  11:00
  Lunch B 11:30
  Lunch A: 11:30
  Lunch B: 12:00
  5   12:35   1:30
  6   1:35   2:30



Inaccessible Example 

Inaccessible image capture of class schedule

Tip 2: The Four C’s:

  • Color
  • Contrast
  • Clutter and
  • Crowding 


Color Dependent Information

  • Color vision 
  • Make sure that colors are not the only method of conveying important information.” (WebAIM)
  • Example of color conveying information on next slide:


Example of Color Dependent Response (Inaccessible)

  • Identify in the pie chart which color represents the greatest amount:  

A pie chart with red, green, yellow, and gray varied portions


Colour Contrast Analyser (CCA) Paciello Group: 

  • Image Description: Screen Convert option in the Colour Contrast Analyser with the red, green, yellow, and gray in simulated Deuteranopia colors 
  • Accessible Option
  • Provide text for each color, numeric value, or other detailed, non-color dependent information

Inaccessible Example Color Dependent Response Example

  • Group assignments: please move to the breakout room for your assigned team color:  

(Description: the names Amy, Aveen, Ahmed, and Alex are in green; Chris, Natalie, Jose, and Viviaan are in red)

Accessible Option Suggestions

  • Label each group, red and green, with student names under each group title
  • Use an * or underline or another discernable feature for each group identifier
  • You Try: 


Inaccessible Example:

Identify Accessibility Issues and Alternative Options

Parent Information Sheet: Red indicates a required field; green is optional:

  1. Parent/guardian name:
  2. Student (child) name:
  3. List any volunteer services you are willing to provide in our class this year: 
  4. Preferred phone number:
  5. Preferred email address:
  6. List days and times you are available to volunteer:
  7. List items (cleaning supplies) you are willing to provide to our class: 
  8. Please let us know about your child and anything we can do to provide support this year:


(Description: Prompts 1, 2, 4, 5 and 8 are in red; 3, 6, and 7 are in green)


Low contrast is represented with a light gray background and gray text

High contrast is represented with a black background and yellow text 

	Low contrast is represented with a light gray background and gray text; High contrast is represented with a black background and yellow text

Impact of Contrast Affects individuals with: 

  • Visual fatigue 
  • Some refractive vision conditions
  • A common change noted in some age-related vision conditions 
  • Certain processing and neurological conditions
  • Many Others


  • Preferences for contrast varies significantly for contrasting colors
  • Inverted contrast v. non-inverted colors (inverted may be black background with white text)


Impact of Glare and Brightness

  • Highly individualized
  • Brightness: Preference varies significantly 

Low v. high

  • Impact of glare
  • Importance of assessment and evaluation for customized settings (monitor, computer, devices)
  • Teachers: provide materials that allow for customized changes 

Clutter and Crowding

  • Many students with various known and undiagnosed disabilities benefit from less visual clutter and font/writing that has adequate, non-crowded spacing
  • Provide ample space between items, separate complex information, or allow for customized alteration of documents and materials
  • Tight lines, patterns, abundant visual clutter can present a challenge for individuals with vestibular disorders 


Tip 3: Multimedia, Captioning, Interpreter, and Description 

  • Captioning and Interpretation 
  • Captioned media and live captioning 

Deaf/Hard of hearing, students with auditory processing disorders, those new to learning English, and many more people benefit from captioning

  • Sign language services: consult with your school system on procedures

Description: Video and Instruction  

  • Video description: provides audio narration of visual information
  • Direct instruction: give descriptive information: Instead of “the formula is there”, read the formula and note its location 
  • Provide descriptions of complex tables, charts, visuals

Multimedia: Seizure and Vestibular Considerations

  • Vestibular disorders are diagnosed more frequently among students and adults Challenges: Static text on top of a moving background, animations
  • Seizures: Challenges: Flashing, flickering, strobing, optical illusions, continuous motion, various movement 

Migraines: some are triggered by visual elements, auditory noises/feedback


Tip 4: Document and Slide Accessibility 

Document Accessibility: This is an abbreviated list:


Tip 5: Advocate for Accessibility in Procurement, Installation, and Updates

  • Procurement: programs, multimedia, electronic textbooks, applications, software, and hardware purchased must be accessible
  • Accessibility must be embedded
  • VPAT: are they reliable?
  • Adoption: adopting applications and other programs, check for accessibility
  • Updates: new program, device, and software updates sometimes “break” accessibility features
  • Administrators: consult with accessibility specialists for this involved topic


  • Accessible materials, devices, and media make all the difference for students, but requires a team and proactive approach
  • Retrofitting accessibility is an intensive and costly process 


Bonus Quick Tips: In-person and Hybrid Learning During COVID 19

  • Please consider placing contrasting tape/markings around the perimeter of plexiglass 
  • Use high contrasting physical distance markers
  • Contrasting color choice will depend on the surface color on which they are affixed
  • Provide clear information for non-drivers to access curbside and parking lot waiting room services 


Please Take Care of Yourself!

  • The 20/20/20 rule
  • Ergonomic monitor and positioning 
  • Customized settings




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Collage of 5 tips for better digital classroom accessibility

Outside classroom with a braille sign that says Vision Program.

Classroom Decorating for Visual and Sensory Needs

Little boy reading a book on a soft bench at the library. Books are on shelves around him.
Activity and strategy

Going to the Library with a Child Who has a Visual Impairment and Adaptive Needs

Krish standing with her brother, holding her cane, standing at Epcot.

Poems from Krishangi