Accessibility Guidelines

Accessible Content

The college has a legal obligation to make sure people can access all the content we produce. This includes people with visual, hearing, cognitive or motor impairments, and those with learning difficulties.


All images must have alternative text. People with vision disabilities use screen readers to listen to the content on web pages. Screen readers will read out the alt text of the image so the user can understand the visual content of the page.

Imagine you’re reading out the content of the page over the phone. How would you explain the image to the listener?

Primary image?

Consider whether the image is primary, meaning seeing it is the only way to deliver specific content. If so, then try to also reproduce that same content below the image in addition to a descriptions the explains to “look below” for more details.

Otherwise if the image is secondary, provide enough of a description (i.e. word, phrase, sentence) to describe the image.

Create accessible PDFs

All PDFs on must be accessible for people who use assistive technologies like screen readers.

The best way to create an accessible PDF is to create an accessible source document (e.g. Microsoft Word).

When a source document is converted into PDF it’s tagged. The PDF tag tree reflects the structure of the document, and it’s this structure that assistive technologies like screen readers use to navigate the document.

In Microsoft Word

Use the styles and features available in Word to format your content and give it structure. This will make it easier to convert your source document into PDF because it lays the groundwork for the PDF tag tree.

Use headings
Use the heading styles in Word to create a logical document structure. Don’t increase the size of text or make it bold to create the appearance of headings.

Treat your document like a book: It should have one title (level one heading) and multiple chapters (level 2 headings). Within each chapter there may be multiple sections (level 3 headings) and sub sections (level 4 headings).

Use lists
Use the list styles in Word to group together related items. If the items follow a specific sequence, use a numbered list instead. Don’t use punctuation or other markers to create the illusion of a list.

Use readable body text
Use left aligned text (unless the language of your document is read right to left). Don’t use justified text in your document.

Choose a sans serif font and use the styles in Word to set it as the default, with a minimum size of 12pt. If you need to include footnotes or other text of a smaller size, increase the size of the body text to 14pt, rather than reduce the size of text below 12pt.

Don’t use chunks of italicized or capitalized text, and don’t underline text unless it’s a link.

Use good color contrast
Use foreground and background colors for text that have a good contrast ratio. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 recommend a ratio of 4.5 to 1 as a good minimum. Don’t use color or shape as the only way to identify contrast in your document. Use text labels or descriptions instead.

Provide text descriptions
Use Word to add text descriptions to all important images in the document. Make sure the text description includes all the information contained within, or conveyed by, the image.


Videos must have closed captions. We recommend using YouTube to host your videos and embded those on the Northeast website.

You can upload a transcript of your video to YouTube and it will caption automatically. It is not recommended to rely upon the “automatic captioning” that comes with YouTube.


The text of the link should reflect the purpose or destination of the link. Try not use generic phrases like “read more” or “click here” as linked text.


Users with disabilities often navigate web pages by skipping from heading to heading. When you use heading blocks correctly, they are tagged in a way that makes this possible. However, sometimes users will make regular text all caps and bold to mimic a heading. Because this text is not tagged the same way in the backend, these faux headings are not useful to people using assistive technology.

Always use the heading blocks to create headings.

Screen Readers

Its important to remember that users sometimes use screen readers to read the content of a webpage to them.  The best way to see how content will be represented is by using an iPad to highlight the page and allow the iPad to read to you.

Consider the following two tables.  The same data is included on both tables.

Table One

Outcome Retention Job Placement Graduate Satisfaction Employer Satisfaction National Credentialing Exam Pass Rate
5 year average 68.5% 84.62%  100.00% 100% 87.18%

Table Two

5 Year Weighted Averages
Retention Rate 64.05%
Job Placement Rate 84.95%
Employer Satisfaction Rate 100.00%
Graduate Satisfaction Rate 100.00%
National Certification Exam Passage Rate 86.11%

Updated on June 21st, 2017


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