[Editor’s Note: This article was first published on the TCEA TechNotes blog.]

As educators, there are many things we can do to make our Google Docs more accessible to our students. We should always be thinking about including universal design for learning (UDL) in all that we do. As a matter of fact, the ISTE Standards for Educators call for educators to design authentic, learner-driven activities and environments that recognize and accommodate learner variability (ISTE Standard 5, Designer). Check out the best practices below to create documents that will be more readable and accessible for everyone, including your students.

Related: So you think you understand UDL?

4 ways to make your Google Docs more accessible

Use headings

Make it easier for others to read your document by including headings. Documents organized to include headings will help readers jump to different sections in your document. Structure and properly formatted headings are very important so that your documents can be easily understood and navigated. Besides that, no one wants to read a single long document.

Headings should be selected based on their hierarchy in the document. Usually, you start the document with a heading that describes the overall document, which would be Heading 1. Follow it with a sub-heading, which would be Heading 2, and so on. Any heading style will help those who use a screen reader to navigate through your document.

Make your Google Docs more accessible

To make an item a heading in Google Docs, follow the steps below:

  1. Select the Styles drop-down menu, located to the left of the font drop-down menu or go to Format, Paragraph Styles.
  2. Change from Normal Text to Heading 1, Heading 2, or Heading 3, using the appropriate heading levels for your content structure.

An added benefit of using Headings is that they can be used to automatically generate a Table of Contents or bookmark items in your document.

About the Author:

Diana Benner has been involved in education since she first started teaching in 1994. She has held a variety of positions in several districts throughout the state of Texas, from high school teacher to virtual learning coordinator. She currently serves as a director of professional development for the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA).