Digital Accessibility Learning Path: Accessibility for Everyone

Use the resources provided here to understand how to make digital content more accessible.

Best Practices for Accessibility – For Everyone

No matter how you connect with the Northeastern community, you can make shared content accessible to as many people as possible by following basic digital accessibility guidelines.

Table of Contents

Alternatives for Visual Information

Anything that is understandable visually, should be presented equally to a person who does not rely on vision.
Content that conveys information and is not text, needs a text alternative, and may include the following:

  • Images and icons including logos containing text.
  • Graphs, Charts, Complex Tables, Informational Graphics (infographics) and Diagrams.
  • Informational media containing audio, video or animations.

The following is an example of a photograph and a caption used for a detailed description. The alt text which is not visible, is more concise and reads “Isabela Castillo works on a 3D printed prosthetic.” The alt text is used to identify the image by non-visual users.

Isabela Castillo works on a 3D printed prosthetic
Isabela Castillo works on a 3D printed prosthetic hand in the EXP Makerspace on the Boston campus. Castillo is a third year Northeastern bioengineering student who heads up Give A Hand, a club developing low-cost prosthetic hands with 3-D printing. Photo by Alyssa Stone / Northeastern University

Captioning, Transcriptions and Alternative Descriptions

Videos and media that has audio and visual content must have an alternative for people that may not be able to see or hear the content.
Often the alternatives are used by many different types of people. For example, captioning is beneficial for a hearing person watching a voice narrated video in a noisy environment. Accessible media may include any of the following:

  • Captions or a Transcript for spoken audio content. This should include audio that is meaningful such as laughter.
  • Visual information in a video should be narrated or described in text or whenever possible.
  • Audio Description, or Described Audio should be available for video that presents information visually and audibly at the same time.
Closed Captioning
Closed Captions
Audio Description
Audio Descriptions

Logical Content Structure

Everyone should be able to understand the way documents and web pages are being presented. Accessible content structure may include the following:

  • A clear and descriptive title
  • A robust Heading structure that can serve as a Document Outline
  • Table of Contents, Bookmarks/In-Page Links and Content Groupings
  • A Logical order of meaningful content
Example of heading levels 1, 2 and 3
Example of Heading Level structure

Easy to Read and Understand

To be easily understandable, the content of a document, webpage or App should consider the following.

  • Color should not make text difficult to read or understand. Remember that some people do not see color.
  • Larger text sizes are often easier to read, and real text is better than pictures of text.
  • The purpose or destination of a hyperlink is clear to everyone, even out of context.
  • Provide guidance for tasks, especially when required tasks are submitted unsuccessfully.
  • All language should be simple, identifiable and easy to comprehend.
4 Examples of Color and Text styles that are easy and difficult to read visually

Easy to Use

Webpages, Apps and digital documents should not be difficult, confusing or contain distracting content.

  • Avoid flashing or blinking content.
  • Make sure people have enough time to complete a task.
  • Nothing should start automatically. This includes slideshows, videos or music. Media should always have play/stop controls.
  • Make sure the content is available to people who do not use a mouse or trackpad.
  • All interactive controls have large target areas.
  • Provide clear text based instruction for tasks that may not be intuitive or contain multiple steps.

Digital Accessibility Testing

Basic digital accessibility testing can be done using a keyboard, and some visual processing, as described in this section.
If you need any additional assistance or would like to request an assessment of your digital content, send a message to the Digital Experience team at, or fill out the Consultation Request Form, to request a consultation.

Basic Accessibility testing using a keyboard.

The interactive parts of digital documents and web pages, need to be accessible for anyone that does not use a mouse or trackpad.
Users must be able to complete all activities, participate in programs and use all the services offered on a web page, without additional difficulty or assistance.

  • After a document or webpage has loaded, use the tab key to navigate the page (Shift + tab to go backwards).
    • There should be a visible way to tell where you are at all times, such as a box around a button or link. For forms, it may just be a blinking cursor.
  • You should be able to use all interactive items. Try using the return/Enter ⏎ key or the spacebar to follow links or push buttons. Some items such as menus and tabs may use right → and left ← or up ↑ and down ↓ arrows.
  • Make sure you can perform all actions that a mouse user can, fill out any forms and submit them successfully.
Keyboard with Braille Display
Keyboard with Braille Display

Make sure it’s easy to read

  • Look for any text that uses colors or images which make reading difficult.
  • The language of the page should be in a logical order and easy to understand.

Look for media alternatives

  • Play videos and make sure there are appropriate captions and audio descriptions available.


Alternatives for Visual information

Captioning, Transcriptions and Alternative Descriptions

Logical Content Structure

Easy to Read and Understand

Easy to Use

Additional Resources

Email Accessibility

This guide describes best practices for creating accessible Microsoft Outlook email documents.

Document Accessibility

This guide provides general document accessibility best practices for digital documents of all kinds.

Accessible Social Media (Best Practices)

Use the resources provided here to create social media content that is available and accessible to the widest audience possible.

Digital Accessibility – Learning Paths

This guide describes best practices for creating accessible Microsoft Outlook email documents.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this learning content. Please let us know if you have completed any of the modules, have any feedback or just want to say hello. Email us at