Creating Accessible Online Electronic Course Documents

Creating Accessible Online Electronic Course Documents

UAA is committed to ensuring that all of its students – regardless of disability or other challenges – can accomplish their academic goals. In this workshop, faculty will explore principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), an approach to designing courses and assignments in a way that serves all users and avoids segregating or stigmatizing any students. This blog tutorial uses easy steps to edit course documents and save them in accessible online formats.

What does it mean to create and post an accessible document in online environments?

An accessible document is an electronic document that is universally designed and saved in a format that most students can easily access electronically. The standard format is creating documents in Microsoft Word or Google Docs and saving and posting a copy as an Adobe .PDF file. This blog post covers using Microsoft Word 2013 or 2016 to create accessible online course documents.

What if I don't currently have my online documents saved as a compatable .PDF?

If your current electronic documents are not saved as compatible .PDF files you can easily update them and save them this way for your next course using Microsoft Word 2013 or 2016 software. Make a plan to update, following the Quick Guide Notes and/or tutorial below as you design your next course.

What if it looks like making these changes will take an excessive amount of time because of the detail of my course content?

UAA faculty, and many other faculty who have begun to rely heavily on online course content, are all feeling this time pressure. The best choice is to begin to update content beginning with the first documents first. Start by updating titles using Styles and adding Alt Text to images and tables as you update course syllabi for the upcoming semester. You are going to review these documents already, so using this time to review and update them for accessibility will help keep your review time under control. As you continue to edit or update your next course, review instruction sets and other content, for example as course materials are updated for Spring semester from Fall. Remember, once you update the content you reuse each semester, it will be complete and you will not need to edit it twice.

What if I have not done this before, how do I get started?

Below is a tutorial with explanations and images to assist you in adding styles to text and alt text to images and tables in your documents. If you need additional assistance contact Academic Innovations & eLearning for support.

Accessible & Print Version of Formatting Accessible Text Documents


Adobe. (n.d.). Training Resources. Retrieved from

Adobe Acrobat. (n.d). Using the PDF Accessibility Checker. Retrieved from

Cooper, M., Kirkpatrick, A. & O’Connor, J. (2016, October 7). Understanding WCAG 2.0. Retrieved from

Blackboard Help. (2017). Accessibility compliance: Blackboard Learn. Retrieved from

Eggert, E., & Abou-Zahra, S. (2016, September 16). How to Meet WCAG 2.0. Retrieved from

Henry, S. (2017, March 10). Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Retrieved from

Microsoft. (2017). Make your Word documents accessible. Retrieved from


W3C Working Group Note. (2016). Understanding WCAG 2.0 Use of Color. Retrieved from   


Web Accessibility Group for Higher Education. (2016, October 3). Accessibility. Retrieved from

Certification Courses around Accessibility

Canvas Network: CN-2084-ACCESSIBILITY

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