Guidelines for Accessible E-mail Messages
E-mail is used by everyone within the college community. The following are tips that ensure that e-mail messages are accessible to all students and staff.
When creating e-mails ensure that you:
- Use plain text formats instead of HTML. Most e-mail programs provide users with the option to send messages in one of two different formats, plain text ot HTML. Text only is the most accessible and usable format for e-mail messages. While HTML messages can be made accessible for people with disabilities, this can be time-consuming for some.
- Make subject lines clear. Avoid blank subject lines or lines that could be confused with spam e-mail.
- Put the most important information first. The best way to make sure recipients read the information you want is to put that information first. Putting new or important information at the end of an e-mail may cause recipients to discard the message, especially if they have read the information previously.
- Keep messages short and to the point. Shorter messages are easier for most people to read and understand, especially those with learning disabilities.
- Be careful when forwarding an e-mail. When you forward an e-mail the whole header of the previous e-mail, including a list of recipients, carrries over into your e-mail message. A long list of recipients cannot easily be skipped by recipients using screenreader technology.
- Avoid using decorative graphics. If graphics are necessary ensure that they are labelled with text for recipients who are blind or have low vision or who can only read text e-mails.
To change mail setting in Microsoft Outlook:
- Open Outlook
- Select 'Tools' and then 'Options'
- Select the 'Mail Format' tab
- In the 'Compose in this message format' select 'Plain Text'
- In the Stationery and Fonts' section, click on Fonts
- Select 12pt Arial or Verdana for all three boxes.
Guidelines for Accessible Word Documents
These guidelines apply to all Microsoft Word documents including those in print and those read electronically (e.g. e-mails and web pages)
When creating Word documents ensure you use Clear Print guidelines as follows:
- Use a clear font such as Arial, Verdana, Trebuchet or Tahoma.
- Use 14 point font if possible, but not less than 12 point font.
- Do not use italics, underline or block capitals.
- To emphasise use bold or semi-bold.
- Keep text simply laid out on the page and preferably left justified.
- Avoid right justification.
- Do not break up text with diagrams or pictures.
- Ensure proper contrast e.g. black on white, black on light yellow.
Adobe Acrobat- guidelines for accessible PDF documents
A PDF document allows limitted editing of the document once it is created and maintains the predefined layout of text and images. Most PDF documents are created via Microsoft Word and then exported to Adobe Acrobat.
Converting from Microsoft Word:
- First, follow the accessibility guidelines for Microsoft Word documents. Then convert using Adobe Acrobat Professional to ensure accessibility features are maintained.
Converting from a Scanned Document:
- Ensure that you use optical character recognition software (OCR).
Using a graphic designer for a publication:
- Raise the University College Cork accessibility policy as applied to PDF documents with the designer.
Guidelines for Accessible PowerPoint presentations
Microsoft PowerPoint is used widely across University College Cork as an aid when presenting to staff and students. This section aims to help staff and students to create a fully accessible presentation with easy to use guidelines. These guidelines should be introduced and maintained for all presentations irrespective of who the presentation is aimed at.
When creating Microsoft PowerPoint presentations ensure you:
- Use short concise ideas employing bullet points and lists where appropriate.
- Ensure every bullet point or item in a list ends with punctuation (e.g. a full stop, semi colon or comma).
- Ensure the text is a minimum size of 24 point. Write no more on a slide than you would on a postcard.
- Choose the slide layout appropriate to your requirements.
- Avoid blank slides.
- Choose a high colour contrast between your background and text, but avoid black on white.
- Adapt your colours to your venue (if you are familiar with the venue). It is easier to read dark text on a light background in a bright venue and dark backgrounds with a light text in dark venues. Apply bold to text if using a dark background.
- Provide a text transcript of the audio-visual material within the notes field of the slide.
Presenting in an inclusive manner
- Consider your pace. Do not speak too fast.
- Allow approximately two minutes per sldie.
- Face the audience.
- Use PowerPoint to highlight key terms.
- Circulate your presentation in advance.
- Vocalise all your PowerPoint slides.
- Use a microphone.