Top 5 Tips on How to Make Your Materials Accessible

Features or flexibility added to a course materials to accommodate individuals with termporarily or permanently reduced abilities in some area have proven to be beneficial to the community of users as a whole, across multiple technologies and devices. In many cases, people without disabilities will find these features more useful than the number of people in the original target audience. In fact, universal design cannot be practiced well unless the needs and abilities of everyone are taken into account.

Additionally, creating access for users of all abilities is a legally mandated priority on the campus of UCI. Below are a few tips that can get you started.

Tip #1: Create a Universal Access Statement on Your Syllabus

Include a statement on your syllabus inviting students with disabilities to notify you of any specific challenges they may have in your course.


“Students who believe they may need academic accommodations due to physical, psychiatric or learning disabilities are encouraged to inform me as soon as possible at (insert e-mail address) or during my scheduled office hours. If you have special needs for campus emergency situations, please inform me immediately. If you have not already done so, I suggest you contact the Disability Services Center at or 949-824-7494. Information on registering with DSC is available at”

Tip #2: Use Built-in Styles and Templates in MS Office

If you are providing documents created from MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint source files use the built-in styles (Word/Excel) and templates (PowerPoint) when creating the original document. Doing so will ensure the greatest level of access. Additionally, if you are to create PDFs from these same files, they too will have the greatest level of access. (Please see the Universal Design for Instructors, TAs and Staff Page on the DSC Website for tutorials on how to create universally designed digital resources).

Tip #3: Make Sure that PDFs are NOT Image-Based

If you are distributing PDFs ensure that they are not imaged-based PDFs (images or pictures of text).

“How can I tell if I have an image-based PDF?”

If you click inside the PDF and the entire body/page of the document is selected you have a Image-based PDF.

If you click inside the PDF on any text and a cursor appears you have a text-based PDF and it is accessible to read.

IF they are image-based PDFs (pictures of text), you can use the SensusAccess conversion tool available at the DSC website to create an accessible, tagged PDF. Please visit the Disability Services Center website.

If you are still having issues or still require assistance, please do not hesitate to contact the Disability Services Center for assistance.

TIP #4: Use Described/Captioned Video

If you are using VIDEO in your lectures ensure that they are captioned for users who are hard of hearing or deaf. This will require the purchase of captioned videos at the purchasing/acquisition process. If captioning is not available, ensure that a transcript of the audio can be distributed to the students. You also have the option of utilzing a video captioning service to create captioned videos. Please contact DSC for vendors who provide this service.

IF you are using YouTube videos please visit the Universal Design for Instructors, TAs, and Staff page on how individuals can request captioning of user-uploaded videos.

TIP #5: Use Transcripts for Audio Files

If you are using audio from audio files, live speakers/lecturers, and/or podcasts ensure that a transcript is made available for students who are hard of hearing, deaf or when English is a second language. If you are in need of using creating audio transcripts please contact DSC for more info.


For more detailed and enhanced tips on how to make your course and/or office doucments more universally designed for users of ALL abilities please visit the Universal Design for UCI Instruction Resource Page for video and walk-through tutorials.

If you require more personal infomation please feel free to contact the Disability Services Center at 949-824-7494 or by email at


03/18/2015, RE