Is your syllabus accessible to all of your students? Learn what changes have been made to the UD Syllabus Template.
In preparation for the fall semester, it is good practice (like getting an annual physical) to perform a syllabus check-up. CTAL practices what it preaches, and in doing so, identified changes that were needed to improve the accessibility of the UD Syllabus Template (created in Google Docs). These changes included:
1. Use tables only to display data,
rather than as a means of page layout. Screen readers read left to right and it may not make sense unless the table is representing data.
2. Avoid using all uppercase text.
Screen readers will read each L, E, T, T, E, R individually rather than the words as a whole.
3. Use text to support formatting.
It’s best not to rely on visual formatting alone to communicate meaning. Screen readers might not announce formatting changes, such as boldface or highlighting. For example, to mark an important section of text, add the word “important”.
4. Organize the structure of your document with appropriate use of headings and subheadings.
This is done when you apply “Styles” to these headings. Use “Heading 1” for the main title, and then “Heading 2, 3, 4 …” for sub-headings that follow. Structure is critical for adaptive technology users, who rely on properly formatted headings to understand and navigate documents and web pages. Without this structure, there is no easy way to navigate a document because the document is read as a single long section.
5. For all links, use a descriptive link (linked text) rather than the full URL
which can be very long especially when read by a screen reader. The linked text should be descriptive of the link. (e.g., don’t use “Click here to learn more”, instead use “Learn more about UD’s attendance policy”
Another good tip: if you are using MS Word, try the built-in accessibility checker. This can be accessed by clicking on the “File” tab, under “Info”, select “Check Issues”, and then select “Check Accessibility”. Google Docs does not have this feature yet, but you can download the document as a Word document and then perform the check.
Good news! If you plan to use the current UD Syllabus Template for this fall semester, these changes have already been made. We encourage you to use the current version of the template. However, if you choose to revise an older version or create your syllabus from scratch, then please consider the above recommendations.
Have questions? Or want more information about getting your syllabus ready for the semester?
- Register for Keep Calm, Teach On’s “Syllabus Check-up” session scheduled for Tuesday, August 14th 1:30-2:15pm
- Register for Keep Calm, Teach On’s “Accessibility 101” session scheduled for Wednesday, August 15th 10:30-11:15am
- Schedule a consultation with CTAL staff