This guide uses both person first and disability first language because we recognize that people with disabilities have different preferences in self-describing and we want to include that diversity in our discussion of disability.
Accessibility is the practice of making your content usable by as many people as possible. This means designing with users with disabilities in mind from the outset and thinking about how different people will interact with the content you create.
Accessible design is the right thing to do and, while it will take a little practice at first, we think you’ll find that the design considerations we discuss in this guide are easy to put into practice.
The acronym POUR comes from the second update to The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, a set of standards used for creating web content. These principles, however, can help inform your accessibility practice in other settings and you should keep in mind no matter what content you’re creating or what format you’re using.
As the name suggests, this means information needs to be presented to users in ways they can perceive. For example, a video with a voiceover but no captions is not letting all the information be perceivable to all users.
User interface and navigation must be operable for users with diverse abilities. Keyboard accessibility can make a huge different on this front. Making sure documents have proper headings can allow users with disabilities to quickly click through content sections.
Content should be clear and extras like images and decorative elements should be relevant to the material being presented. This aspect of the POUR acronym can benefit all users, not only those with disabilities.
Your content has to allow users to engage with it in a variety of ways, including with assistive technology. Accessibility should not be an afterthought. Considering accessibility principles throughout the creation process of a document or presentation, and considering the needs of many different users, will allow more people to interact with and benefit from your content.
Most word processing software enables you to mark or tag your text with things like headings which give structure to your document and make it easier for sighted and non-sighted users alike to navigate your content.
Alt-text refers to a textual description you can assign a particular image, ensuring that someone who cannot see your image can still interact fully with your content. Including alt-text is not an optional practice.