multiple devices consume multiple types of content

Stuff Your Mom Never Told You About Electronic Content

One of the principles in Universal Design for Learning is to provide materials in multiple formats (equitable access). Some of you may remember a time before there were curb cuts.  Curb cuts came about as a result of the ADA. They were originally designed to allow wheelchair users to more easily travel along sidewalks.

However, we soon discovered there were lots of unexpected benefits – kids on bikes no longer had to jump off/on curbs; deliveries using carts became easier; parents with strollers no longer had to stop, pick up the stroller, put it down, walk across the road, and pick up the stroller again once they reached the other side. Curb cuts made life a lot easier for everyone.

The principle is the same with electronic material.   I thought it might be useful to talk about types of content and which types benefit different abilities.

The table below lists a disability persona across the top row.  Types of content are in the left-most column.   Notice how providing material in different formats benefits more than one type of disability persona.

Disability Personas and Who Accesses Each Type of Content
Hearing Dexterity Cognitive
(Learning Disabilities)
Clean Documents (1) X X X
Selectable Text (2), (3) X X X
Color Contrast X X
Image Labels (Alt Text) X
Captioning/ Transcribing (video & audio) X X

Now that we know a little more about different content types and how they can help different ways of learning, this second table provides some strategies we can use when creating content.  This not a comprehensive list but it is a good place to start

Strategies for Content Types
Type of Content Strategies
Clean Documents
  • High-quality scans
  • High-quality images
Selectable Text
(can be copied and/or searched)
  • Provide “real” text (not just images of text)
  • Use a Canon printer on campus (2)
  • Run the Accessibility Checker in Acrobat
  • Provide documents as PDF and Word DOC or HTML
Color Contrast
Image Labels
(alt text)
  • Right-click –> Format (in Word)
  • Discuss strategies with the Accessibility Team
(video & audio)
  • Upload transcript to YouTube for video
  • Discuss strategies with the Accessibility Team



  1. What is meant by “Clean Documents”?  Documents where the text is clear (not blurry), relatively free of handwritten notes, lines, circles, and arrows, and containing very few black blocks.
  2. Selectable text means it can be copied or searched
  3. All Canon printers on campus are, by default, set to use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) when scanning documents.  The accuracy of the OCR is 100% dependent on the quality of the document being scanned.