UMass Boston

What Makes a Document Accessible?

An accessible document is one that has clear and consistent formatting and can be read electronically.

Accessible documents are easier to navigate and comprehend, and they offer compatibility across programs and devices making the document usable for all students, including those who rely on screen-reading technology.


Tools and Resources

For general best-practices to apply as you create and update content, follow our Guide for Creating Accessible Documents.

Blackboard Ally

Ally is a new feature available in all Blackboard courses that automatically rates the accessibility of documents and multimedia posted in Blackboard and provides instructors with step-by-step guidance to repair documents and replace them with more accessible versions. Learn more about Ally.

How-to Cheat Sheets (NCDAE)

The National Center on Disability and Access to Education (NCDAE) provides simple one page instructions to create various types of accessible documents, based on the type of document and the version of software available to you (Including Word, PDF, PPT and more).

Visit the NCDAE web page for additional guides.

Update Your Software

A way to ensure both accessibility and compatibility is to use the most up-to-date software available. UMass Boston provides Microsoft Office and other software for free to faculty. Visit the UMass Boston Microsoft Office web page for details.

SensusAccess Document Converter Tool

This self-service tool helps with the conversion of web pages and documents into accessible PDFs and MP3 recordings. Use SensusAccess Document Converter.

What is a Screen Reader?

A screen reader is a software application that converts visual web content into synthesized speech, allowing the user to listen to content. A good practice is to download a screen reader emulator so you can “view” your content from the point of view of a student who may require the use of such an application.