Thinking about Accessibility for Your Virtual Programs

Thinking about Accessibility for Your Virtual Programs

Whether you are offering information literacy workshops virtually or hosting an online program featuring guest speakers during this time, it is important to think about accessibility needs. You may have users who prefer closed captioning of your virtual sessions. Recently the American Library Association’s Accessibility Assembly released two new important toolkits:

  1. Accessible Communication Styles
  2. Virtual Accessibility

These toolkits provide guidance and resources on creating “inclusive language to celebrate the diversity of experiences” and offer “best practices which promote an inclusive library environment.” In addition, Virtual Accessibility provides useful resources, including these tips for hosting a webinar:

  • Use clean backgrounds that do not become a distraction.
  • Avoid all caps.
  • Use a 24-point font or greater.
  • Make sure that there is high contrast between print and the background.
  • Keep animations simple, and describe them.
  • Describe any pictures, charts, or graphics before you read the slide.
  • Use the alt tags to describe the pictures. This makes them accessible to people who use screen readers and supports people who struggle with social cues or have visual processing issues.
  • Use only videos that are captioned.
  • Make sure you voice all of the information on the slide; do not rely on people being able to see, read, or process the print information.
  • Include a variety of communication styles in your presentation such as visual supports, ASL, and captioning.
  • Leave the bottom 1/3 of the slide blank to allow for captions.

Be sure to note that any recorded webinars contain some kind of transcript if possible. Another important tip is that if you use images in your presentations or websites (particularly LibGuides), be sure to create an “alternative text” to your images so that users of assistive technologies (e.g., screen readers) will be able to find the description of the content of the image. As noted above, “describe any pictures, charts, or graphics before you read the slide.” 

An additional resource to consider is the WAVE tool, which is a site that can check for accessibility. “WAVE is a suite of evaluation tools that helps authors make their web content more accessible to individuals with disabilities. WAVE can identify many accessibility and Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) errors, but also facilitates human evaluation of web content.”

To ensure that your online library services and resources, including web pages, are accessible for all, particularly during this challenging period, it is critical to consider how to frame the language to be more inclusive and consider appropriate features for users with specific needs. You may also survey your attendees in advance to see if they may need such services like closed captioning. If you are still not sure where to begin, consider speaking with a colleague from the office of services for students with disabilities or accessibility services for suggestions.

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