Meeting accessibility requirements

As a service provider, we are required by law to take reasonable steps to ensure digital interfaces, printed materials and marketing activities are accessible to people with disabilities.

Discrimination may occur if a person with a disability is denied access to information that is available to a non-disabled person. This involves not only reacting to the needs of individuals on request, but also trying to anticipate their needs.

The accessibility regulations build on existing obligations to people who have a disability under the Equality Act 2010 (or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland).

Careful consideration should be given to accessibility guidelines when you are planning a publication. This will make implementation easier. Implemented successfully, these guidelines will make our communication and marketing materials more accessible, not only to a visually impaired audience but to everyone.

Branded accessible templates

We have a wide range of branded accessible templates which provide you with maximum flexibility, so that you can communicate effectively with your audience and be accessibility compliant.

Tips for accessibility

Font

  • Our default font for all Microsoft packages, Arial, is considered accessible.
  • Set leading/line spacing at 150% (1.5) of the font size.
  • Left align text and avoid using justified text all in the same font size.
  • Where possible, avoid using ALL CAPITALS and italics in any body of text.
  • Avoid underlining text as it will look like a hyperlink. When you create hyperlinks in any body of text, make sure that the link text clearly describes what the link is linking to. Eg. ‘The University has three campuses. Find out about our Colchester Campus. And not ‘Click here for Colchester.’
  • Never overlay text on images that are already featuring text.

Type size

The clear print standard requires a minimum font size of 12 point, according to www.gov.uk. Although if material is specifically for people with a visual impairment, 14 point should be considered.

When it is necessary to use a smaller font size, give the text enough space between lines so as not to appear cramped and consider producing an accessible version with 14 point.

Colour

  • Use high contrast colours.
  • Where possible avoid using bright contrasting colours as this can be overwhelming.
  • Avoid conveying meaning using colour alone, instead, use a combination of colour, shape and text.
  • Black text on a white or very pale background is most legible.

Format

  • Where possible, publish any information documents in HTML formats, as this format works best with assistive technology.
  • Where possible, include an accessibility statement on any information, that highlights a named contact so people can get in touch if they need support. For example: ‘If you would like to request this information in an accessible format, please get in touch with wedm@essex.ac.uk.

Language and design layout

  • The best design is simple and uncluttered.
  • Use a linear, logical layout when publishing information.
  • Use simple to understand language and avoid figures of speech and idioms.
  • Avoid long lines of text – ideally, keep to a maximum of fourteen words per line.
  • Break long sections of text down by adding headings, subheadings, lists and highlight boxes. Leave some clear space.

Audio and video files

Avoid putting content in only audio or video format. Instead, ensure transcripts or captions are also available. See video guidelines on subtitling/captions for more information.

Writing hashtags

Use camel case, which is an important accessibility requirement. Screen readers cannot identify the individual words in a hashtag without camel case. This means the content will be inaccessible to users of screen readers. This could be a significant proportion of our audience.

Using camel case will make your hashtags accessible to all of these people. And more, because camel case improves readability and understanding for everyone.

See our house writing style for more information.

Creating accessible documents

All documents must be accessible. This is a legal requirement. We cannot upload any documents to the website that do not pass all the criteria in an accessibility check.

Please do circulate this information across your teams.

Microsoft Office documents

Use a template 

We have a wide range of branded accessible templates which provide you with maximum flexibility, so that you can communicate effectively with your audience and be accessibility compliant.

Use Microsoft Office accessibility settings

To check that a Word document is accessible, in Word go to the Review tab and click Check Accessibility. A panel will pop up on the right that highlights any accessibility issues with the document. Some of these will just be warnings of things you need to check. Others will be issues that need to be addressed. Word gives advice on how to check issues.

Screenshot of an example of Microsoft Word accessibility inspection results message

Once the Word document is fully accessible and you’ve checked any warnings in that panel, you can easily create an accessible PDF from this by the following steps, see below.

Find out more about checking accessibility within Microsoft Office.

Accessible PDFs

Once the Word document is fully accessible and you’ve checked any warnings in that panel, you can easily create an accessible PDF from this by the following steps.

  1. Go to File > Save As (it’s important you click Save As, rather than Save as Adobe PDF).
  2. Choose PDF from the dropdown of document types.
  3. In the Optimize for section, choose Minimum size (publishing online).
  4. Give the document a formal title in the Title

Screenshot of an example of Microsoft Word file saving options

5. Click the Options button, and make sure all of the non-printing information options are checked. These should be:

  • Create bookmarks using Headings
  • Document properties
  • Document structure tags for accessibility

Screenshot of Microsoft Word accessibility options

6. Once all of those steps are taken, now you can click Save, and Word will create an accessible PDF ready for upload to the website.

Find out more

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Organisational Development For any personal, individual and/or confidential matters regarding access and disability.