It is important to make sure that your documents are accessible to as many people as possible.
For tutorials, checklists, and guidelines, see https://www.section508.gov/content/build/create-accessible-documents.
Please write reports and other research documentation with accessibility in mind. For tutorials, checklists, and guidelines, see https://www.section508.gov/create/documents/
University Handbook, 2022, Chapter 6 Section 1:
University Handbook, 2022, Chapter 1 Section 1:
|"Print to PDF" will strip out all accessibility tags|
|previously added in MS Office applications. Instead, use "Export" or "Save As PDF|
|" when converting your document.|
|Table of Contents|
|Consult with your research unit's Technical Editor to ensure that you are using the most up-to-date report and technical memo templates that are designed to use accessible styles and reduce the amount of remediation that will be needed before publishing.|
- Use the accessibility tools built into MS Office and other products that you use to create documents. Checklists for specific applications: https://webaim.org/resources/evaloffice/
- TxDOT Research Library indexed accessibility resources: https://library.ctr.utexas.edu/Presto/search/SearchResults_ClearCriteria.aspx?q=(catalog.category:accessibility)
- AASHTO RAC Presentation about Accessibility: AASHTOSummerRAC2019_Section508ComplianceFinal_7-19-2017.pdf
- NOAA Central Library Accessibility LibGuide: https://libguides.library.noaa.gov/Section508/CreatingDocs
- National Transportation Library Accessibility LibGuide: https://transportation.libguides.com/accessibility/resources
- Texas Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities Access to Information: https://gov.texas.gov/organization/disabilities/accessible_communications
Accessible Tables: A PowerPoint presentation by Michael Molina, Oklahoma DOT, June 9, 2021. https://transportation.libguides.com/ld.php?content_id=61899149
|Avoid inserting a table as an image. For TRB paper submissions, inserting a table as an image is grounds for an automatic desk rejection.If inserting a table as an image, it must be given alt-text just like any other image. Images containing text must contain–verbatim–all of the text contained in the image unless the image is redundant to the surrounding text. A non-sighted reader must be able to obtain the exact information that a sighted reader can.|
Alternative Text for images and objects
Non-text content (images including photos, charts, graphs, Smart Art and most equations) must include alt text that screen readers can use to describe the content. This alt-text is not visible to most people, but will be read when people are using the "Read Aloud" feature and is used by search engines when indexing online documents.
- Review "Section 2: Common Mistakes" in the 2010 Social Security Administration Guide: Alternate text for images (4.3 MB PDF)
- UTRGV handout: https://www.utrgv.edu/eolc/_files/2017/posters/handouts/a-guide-to-alternative-text.pdf
- A decision tree for creating alt-text https://www.w3.org/WAI/tutorials/images/decision-tree/
If the Word accessibility checker is flagging multiple parts of your image as requiring alt-text, make a screenshot of your figure and re-insert it as a single image so that alt-text can be added to describe the whole image instead of each individual component (e.g., chart lines, arrows, photo collages, photos with overlay drawings, etc). Before replacing your figure with a screenshot, save your original document in case you need to make edits to the figure in the future.
Adding Alt-Text in MS Word
Option 1, run the accessibility checker and toggle through the list of objects that need alt-text:
You can customize your Review ribbon by right-clicking on the ribbon
Option 2, right-click on the image and select "Edit Alt Text":
Calculations, equations, formulas, and special characters used to convey scientific or mathematical concepts need to be read accurately by screen readers. There are a few different methods for creating accessible equations.
- Penn State Guidance for accessible equations (including LaTeX guidance): https://accessibility.psu.edu/math/equations/
- Michigan DOT guidance handout (11 pages): https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdot/MDOT-Research-Accessibility-Guidelines_658743_7.pdf
Mathspeak (examples of shorthand for use in alt-text): https://www.seewritehear.com/accessible-mathml/mathspeak/examples/quick-tutorial/index.php?verbosity=b&explicitness=0&interp=all
Tip title Tips when adding alt-text for equations
For complex equations that include matrices, layout, nested fractions, etc., It could be helpful to review samples the MathSpeak super-brief semantics to incorporate shorthand alt-text like
"StartFrac"/"EndFrac" bookends for identifying complex fractions https://www.seewritehear.com/accessible-mathml/mathspeak/examples/grammar-rules/?rule=fractions&description=Fractions&id=7
"StartRoot"/"EndRoot" bookends for identifying square root calculations https://www.seewritehear.com/accessible-mathml/mathspeak/examples/grammar-rules/?rule=radicals&description=Radicals&id=9
"l-par"/"r-par" or "l-brace"/"r-brace" for left- and right-parentheses or left- and right-braces
"Sub"/"Base" and "Sup"/"Base" for identifying the beginning and end of complex subscripts and superscripts, and "SupSup" to identify a superscript within a superscript: https://www.seewritehear.com/accessible-mathml/mathspeak/examples/grammar-rules/?rule=scripts&description=Superscripts%20and%20Subscripts&id=8
"ModAbove"/"With" and "ModBelow"/"With" to indicate modifiers: https://www.seewritehear.com/accessible-mathml/mathspeak/examples/grammar-rules/?rule=stacked&description=Modifiers%20and%20Stacked%20Expressions&id=11
- Describing Matrices and binomials: https://www.seewritehear.com/accessible-mathml/mathspeak/examples/grammar-rules/?rule=linearalg&description=Linear%20Algebra&id=15
To test color contrast, you need the exact value for each color used. If testing colors that are on a website, try a color picker browser add-on to find this value. For desktop applications, free software such as Paciello Group's free Colour Contrast Analyser may help.
Graph design, color, and accessibility
Chart design, color, and accessibility
Even if you are color-coding charts, make sure values or labels are included with each bar for screen readers. If the color differences are significant to understanding the chart, make sure that they have sufficient color contrast and difference in darkness for a colorblind user to interpret.
Example 1. The below bar chart includes labels on each bar. Color contrast needs to be checked to make sure that there is enough contrast between the white text (foreground) and the red, orange, blue, and gray bars (background). In addition, if the bar colors are significant and correspond with a key, then the contrast between each bar color also needs to be checked.
To check the foreground (text) against the background (bar), check review the color codes on WebAIM's Contrast Checker or other tool.
Tip To test color contrast, you need the exact value for each color used. If testing colors that are on a website, try a color picker browser add-on to find this value. For desktop applications, free software such as Paciello Group's free Colour Contrast Analyser may help title TIP