Accessibility means comprehensive accessibility and usability for all people and thus includes both structural accessibility and disabled-friendly equipment of buildings as well as barrier-free access to communication, information and content.
Teaching and the Digital Space
Accessibility refers not only to structural accessibility, but also to barrier-free teaching and barrier-free access to information and communication.
There are various things to consider when designing accessible teaching, learning and web offerings. In the following, you will find basic tips and advice on how to design materials and your teaching to be barrier-free/low-barrier. You find further information within the “Leitfaden zur Barrierefreiheit TUM Center for Study and Teaching” and “Digitale Barrierefreiheit: Barrierefreie Inhalte mit Typo3” (both in German language) under the category “Accessibility”.
Here you will find the declaration on the accessibility of the TUM website as well as contact options if you notice any deficiencies with regard to compliance with the accessibility requirements.
Below you will find tips and information on how to avoid barriers when creating documents.
Alternative texts for graphics
For people with visual impairments and screen reader users, images without alternative text are invisible. Add an alternative text to the image that accurately and concisely represents the content and function of the image.
Comprehensible and clear language increases the usefulness and accessibility of your document. Avoid unusual abbreviations and explain technical and foreign words. Increase readability by using clear page titles and divide your text into small units.
Export as tagged PDF
When you export documents as PDFs, they must be exported as tagged PDFs. Since the tags contain the accessible information, this is the basic requirement to create accessible documents.
Color and color contrasts
When information is expressed by color alone, it creates barriers for people who are colorblind or visually impaired. But this information is also lost in black and white printing.
Use other types of representation in addition to color. For example, in charts, curves can be distinguished from each other (in addition to color markings) using continuous and dotted lines. Also make sure you have sufficient contrast in your document.
Use style sheets when creating your documents. This sets the heading hierarchy in which the screen reader navigates. List items and paragraphs are also displayed correctly this way.
Meaningful links enable accessibility and good usability. Screen readers usually do not read aloud the textual context that explains the link. Create a link to the entire text that is meaningful on its own:
- Good example: “On the website of TUM for accessibility you will find further instructions, hints, solutions to create barrier-free documents and content.”
- Bad example: “On the website of TUM for accessibility you will find further instructions, hints, solutions to create barrier-free documents and content.” “Here you can find further instructions, hints, solutions.”
Tables present a particular difficulty for people who use screen readers. The larger and more complicated a table is, the harder it is to understand using a screen reader. Do not rely on tables for visual formatting, and always provide tables with headings. Instead of tables, use the “columns” feature to display multiple items side by side.
Below you will find instructions and important tips for designing accessible websites.
Alternative texts for graphics
For the visually impaired and users of screen readers, images without alt text are invisible. Add alternative text to your image which accurately and concisely describes the content and function of the image.
Alternatives for multimedia
Audios and videos also require alternatives, otherwise they are not perceivable by people with hearing or visual impairments.
- Transcription of audio files
- Videos with subtitles
- Audio description or full-text alternative for informational visual video content
- Automatically played sounds can be switched off (disturbing for screen reader users)
Structuring of text content
Ensure good structuring of headings, paragraphs, lists and tables. You can find more information about this on the TUM website “Barrier-free content” of the Central Information Technology (TYPO3 team) as well as on the website on accessible websites of Bielefeld University.
Meaningful links are a matter of accessibility and good usability. Besides a good designation of the links also the reference to deviating file formats (for example “PDF”) belongs to it. Link the whole, stand-alone meaningful text:
- Good example: “On the website of the TUM for accessibility you will find further instructions, hints, and solutions to create barrier-free documents and content.”
- Bad example: “On the website of TUM for accessibility you will find further instructions, hints, and solutions to create barrier-free documents and content.” “Here you can find further instructions, hints, and solutions.”
Linked files such as Word, PowerPoint or PDF files should also be accessible. See Microsoft's information pages on designing accessible Word documents, designing accessible PowerPoint presentations, and designing accessible Excel documents for people with disabilities.
Color and color contrasts
Colors as information carriers present barriers for color-impaired or blind people. Use other types of representation in addition to color. For example, in charts, curves can be distinguished from each other (in addition to color coding) using solid and dashed lines. Also, pay attention to the contrast of your page.
Understandable and clear language increases usability and accessibility. Avoid unusual abbreviations and explain technical and foreign terms. Increase readability with clear page titles and divide your text into small units.
Accessible online and offline teaching takes into account the needs of as many students as possible. Below you will find some hints and tips for designing accessible teaching:
First, keep in mind that you want your teaching to reach students with a wide range of needs and potentials. Through certain measures, techniques, and transparency, students with chronic pain, mobility impairments, visual impairments, hearing impairments, and reading disabilities can also benefit from your teaching. Also, be considerate of international students as well as students with possible added responsibilities in their private lives.
Listen to your students and facilitate transparent communication, for example, in your office hours.
Combine asynchronous and synchronous teaching. Asynchronous teaching presents a greater opportunity for barrier-free learning. (Accessible) learning materials can be retrieved online and studied at one's own pace without a time limit. With synchronous teaching, provide accessible documents some time before the event to allow for preparation. Also, plan for plenty of variety and breaks during the event.
Ensure that your provided learning materials are barrier-free.
- Communicate exam dates, registration and deregistration periods, and the procedure for compensating for disadvantages at the beginning of the semester.
A comprehensive manual can be found on the website on accessibility in online teaching of the Hochschulforum Digitalisierung.
- Accessible templates for Office (Excel, PowerPoint, and Word): Microsoft Office Accessible Templates web page
- Designing accessible Office documents: Microsoft's information pages on designing accessible Word documents, designing accessible PowerPoint presentations, and designing accessible Excel documents
- Very descriptive tips on accessibility on the pages of Bielefeld University: Creation of accessible documents, creation of accessible websites
- Free download of PAC (PDF Accessibility Checker) tool for checking the accessibility of PDF documents and forms: Website with PAC download instructions
- Online library on accessibility of digitized teaching, learning, and web resources: Website “Barrier-free teaching” of the German Student Union (German)
- Manual on planning, implementation and design of accessible online teaching: Website on accessibility in online teaching of the Hochschulforum Digitalisierung (German)
- Overview of the accessibility of various online meeting platforms: Website of the Federal Monitoring Center for Information Technology Accessibility (BFIT-Bund)
- Overviews and assistance on accessibility of information technology: Website on information technology of the Federal Agency for Accessibility (German)