Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Make your Digital Media Projects Accessible

What does it mean to make a project accessible?

To make a project accessible means that anyone is able to access and use the information. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires that public institutions meet specific standards to ensure equal access to services, programs, spaces, and employment.

This guide focuses on AODA standards for digital content. Along the left-hand side, you’ll see different resource types, and on each page, step-by-step instructions, as well as additional considerations, to help guide you in making your digital content accessible.

Why is digital accessibility important?

Accessibility recognizes the inherent dignity and independence of every person. By ensuring that a person can access and use digital content, regardless of disability, we are creating equal opportunities to learn and engage with information.

Let’s forget about regulations for a moment. Instead, let's think about how barriers to accessibility can limit people’s ability to access content freely and easily.

As we revise or create new web content, here are four pillars of accessibility that can help us to centre the people’s needs in design conversations:

  • People need to perceive information in order to use it. To do this, people rely on different forms or modalities of information that suit their abilities. For example, Sam might use a screen reader which allows them to listen to the content of the page as it’s read aloud. To make this possible, content needs to be transformable to auditory format. The most easily transformable content is text based. For example, we can create descriptive transcripts that allow someone who is visually impaired to experience the visual content in a video. Also, text in the form of closed captions makes the audio content of a video intelligible to a person with a hearing impairment.
  • People use different devices to access the same information. When people explore web content, they will use different tools (e.g., screen readers, text magnifiers, speech recognition software, etc.) to give them the best experience, and the fewest barriers. Some platforms and settings make exploring the web difficult and limit access to certain content.
  • People must be able to understand and use the information. We need to make sure that:
    • Writing is clear, simple, and concise
    • Alternate formats are easily accessible
    • People can easily navigate to the information they are looking for
  • People have the right to choose the technologies they use. People will use technologies that they prefer, that enhance their web experience, and that help them to access the information they are looking for. If we create barriers to content, this may prompt the person never to come back to our resources.

Source: Constructing a POUR website

What makes digital content inaccessible?

Despite their best intentions, creators of digital content can produce barriers. Some examples of common barriers include:

  • Using visual cues to convey meaning in videos and digital posters, and forgetting to include this information in descriptive transcripts.
  • Creating incorrect formatting in a document, e.g., using bold and italics to create headings rather than using heading styles.
  • Using automatic captioning and not proofreading it for errors.
  • Turning on hover text options to hide long descriptions in a LibGuide.
  • Forgetting to include alternative text on images.
  • Not knowing, or understanding, when control has been taken out of the user’s hands, e.g., having video content auto-play or having links open in a new window by default.

Suggest an edit to this guide

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.