By Katarina Hjärtmyr, guest blogger. KatarinaKatarina Hjärtmyr is a Learning Technology Consultant at the Centre for Academic Development (PIL) at Örebro University in Sweden. Katarina works with support and administration of Blackboard and other digital tools available at the university. Katarina is also the system administrator for Urkund. At the 2015 Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference in Liverpool, Katarina presented ‘Accessible Content is Better for Everyone’. View the slides of the presentation here. For more information about Katarina, visit the university website. Contact Katarina at katarina.hjartmyr@oru.se. The Swedish law against discrimination has been tightened when it comes to disability. If your webpage, digital information or facilities are not accessible it is considered an act of discrimination. There are many different organisations working with accessibility, especially on the web. Web Accessibility Initiative, WAI, is one organisation that works to improve the web with an aim to ensure that, whether or not you have some kind of disability, everyone should be able to navigate the Internet. You don’t have to be disabled to think that it is hard to find your way around the web. It is necessary to think about structure and format when you design the web for everyone’s sake. There are many different tools to choose from when you need some kind of technical aid when using the computer. The most common aid is probably the spell check which most of us use in different kinds of word processing programs. There are also alternatives to the computer mouse or key board, but also screen magnifiers and specific programs which read and/or interpret text and images on the screen. It is when I have looked at programs that magnify my screen or just listen to a voice that help me navigate on a webpage that I have realised the importance of good structure on the web, and this had made me think again before publishing webpages. If you need a screen magnifier to read text, for instance, it can be hard to find important buttons. It is not always that the “Send”-button is in the most logical place on the page. If there are many links on a page, it can be hard for a screen reader to interpret the page and make some sense of it for the person who cannot see it. By day I work with an LMS (Learning Management System) at a university and most of the systems on the market are more or less accessible. But even if you have a relatively accessible system, the teacher or course builder sometimes makes the course inaccessible and impossible to understand by his or her design. Finding a good structure which all teachers on a course or programme use and follow is sometimes a determining factor to get students to finish the course. The structure needs to be easy to understand for everyone to succeed with his or her studies. It is not only the course that needs structure and order, every document you use and especially if you publish on the web has to be clear. There are many good tools within the most commonly used programs to help you check that you have used headings in the correct order and that you have an alternative text on all your images. Colour is also important to think about when you build a webpage or a slideshow. Some colour combinations are impossible to read for everyone, for instance red text on a blue background or green text on a red background. You need to use dark text on a bright background or the other way around, white or yellow text on a dark background. When you create a slideshow you need to think about the way in which you present your slides. If the next slide flies in let them fly in every time and don’t change the way they do so during the presentation. You also need to think about not using underlining, colours or sound to mark a word or phrase. Everyone can’t see colours or colour combinations. If you are colour blind you cannot distinguish all colours. Everyone can’t hear and if the only mark is a sound, many students may miss it. Underlining is usually perceived as a link to something else, so don’t use that as a mark and especially if you write for the web. Video and film are often used on course sites today. An important thing to think about is to subtitle your film so that it’s accessible for anyone who wants to see the film. An alternative can be to publish a manuscript adjacent to the film. A tip is to subtitle your film already when recording it, you may find yourself in a hurry if a student on the course asks for it. Accessibility is something we all need to think about and get better at handling. Do we have alternative texts on our images at our course sites or on our webpage? Do we have a clear and simple structure which is easy to understand? Are our documents ordered and tagged correctly so that it’s easy to find things when going through them? Do we use good colours that anyone can see in our webpages and slideshows? And are all our films subtitled so that everyone can enjoy them?