Quick Tips to Create Accessible Content

Creating Accessible Course Materials for Online Learning

Teaching online presents new opportunities and flexibility for both faculty and students. The online mode can also present barriers for learners. This resource offers some tips to minimize barriers by making content accessible for everyone and offering an inclusive environment.

When new online courses are developed in collaboration with the UWB-IT Digital Learning, the expertise of the team members help ensure that courses are accessible. This resource offers some tips to minimize barriers by making content accessible for everyone and offering an inclusive environment. 

For more lessons about accessibility, go to the UW Bothell  fully online Self-paced Canvas course.  For questions, please contact Ana Thompson at thomana@uw.edu.


Provide well-formatted PowerPoint or Google slides and Word or Google documents and minimize the use of PDFs. Whenever possible, add content directly to Canvas pages. 


As the old adage goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, images can definitely add a lot to content. But what if the person accessing the content has vision or cognitive issues? Always add alternative text (alt text) to all images, including figures and charts or if they do not provide any meaning, mark them as decorative. For more information, see the section, Alt Text for Images.
For Canvas see the Add Alternative Text in Canvas tutorial, for other tools such as MS Office or Google Drive see tutorials in Tip #1.

"" Descriptive Links and Permalinks

Use descriptive links instead of phrases like “click here” or the full URL. For example, use UW Bothell instead of https://www.uwb.edu/. For more information, see this descriptive links tutorial.

Use Library databases persistent links (permalinks) for articles or other electronic materials instead of uploading PDFs of the article into the course.

Use of Color

Color is great and images can add so much to content! Color should be used in conjunction with other tools (descriptions, symbols, etc.) to convey meaning and there should always enough contrast. See this Use of Color resource for more information.

Captions & Transcripts

Provide captions or transcripts for videos whenever you can. Ideally, all video content should have captions or an accompanying transcript, but we know that may be a tall order in this time of disruption. Here are four tips to help make videos more accessible:

  • Select premade content that is captioned or transcribed. For library content, consult with a Librarian.
  • When recording a lecture, use a script. Upload and post that script along with the video in your Canvas module.
  • After you’ve recorded and processed a video in Panopto, go into edit mode to import automatic captions.
  • Use the caption file generated by Zoom. When you make a Zoom recording, a caption file is automatically created. See Add Captions to Canvas.

General tips

  • Use built-in Accessibility Checkers (Canvas, MS Office, Adobe Acrobat Pro DC)
  • Content added directly into Canvas pages is easy to edit and if students choose to, they can print it on paper or as a PDF to save it.
    Bonus: Content printed from Canvas content will always print a full URL next to all links.
  • Avoid using PDFs as much as possible. It is the least accessible type of document available unless it has been remediated.
  • If you have forms that students need to fill out, use properly-formatted Word or Google forms. Alternatively, a graded or non-graded Canvas survey may fit your needs.