a drawing of a Google doc

Make your Google Docs more accessible

These best practices can help educators create documents that will be more readable and accessible for all

Add alt text to images

Images can play a significant role in Google Docs. The way to make them accessible is to add alternative text, or alt text, to the image. Alt text for images is vital to ensuring that users with visual impairments have access to information included in these visuals. Alternative text should provide enough information so that users who are unable to see them are still able to understand what they convey.

To add alt text to an image embedded in a Google Doc, follow the steps below:

  1. Upload or insert the image.
  2. Click and highlight the image.
  3. Right click on the image and select alt text.
  4. In the pop-up window, enter a description of the image into the description field.
  5. Click OK when done.

Related: 3 steps to a more accessible classroom

While there are no hard and fast rules for determining what alternative text should say (it depends on the image, its context, etc.), one simple trick is to imagine describing the image to someone over the phone.

Clearly describe hyperlinks

You can make your Google Docs even more accessible by improving how you use hyperlinks in your documents. Hyperlinks should be embedded in text that makes them clear, concise, and meaningful in context. Users visually scan pages for links to help them find the information they are looking for quickly. Those who use screen readers can pull up a list of all the links on your document at the touch of a button; therefore, the links should make as much sense as possible.

For example, a link should say “Closed Captions in Google Slides” instead of “Closed Captions in Google Slides. Click here.”

To best add a hyperlink to a Google Doc, follow the steps below:

  1. Highlight the text you want to make into a hyperlink.
  2. Right click on the text and scroll to Link.
  3. Insert the Link.
  4. Click Apply when done.

Use color and contrast appropriately

Color in your documents is very important. It is critical that the appropriate contrast exist between the text in your document and the background of your document. Lightly colored text should have a darker background and darker colored text should have a light background. In addition, color alone should never be used to emphasize items on your document. Use color plus bold to highlight items. Always remember, what you see may not be what others see.

Related: 5 ways to leverage UDL for student inclusivity

Accessibility in the future

As we head into the future, it will be more important than ever to consider accessibility and UDL principles. This means we must rethink what we are doing and how we are doing it. Incorporating these best practices will result in more accessible and usable Google Docs.

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