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The University of Bolton Library

Depositing Research to UBIR

Accessibility 2020

The University of Bolton is committed to providing resource that is inclusive and accessible to the widest possible audience. This includes the content of UBIR. The website must be compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)  as required by the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (PSBAR).  You should be making your content accessible – so that people with visual, auditory, cognitive, or other impairments will get a similar learning experience. Before you send or upload your documents to UBIR please check them for accessibility. This page has advice and guides that you might find useful for writing and checking compliant documents. 

Accessible PhD theses

It is good practice for doctoral students to produce accessible theses because:  

  • examiners might need an accessible copy, for example if they are screen reader users.
  • being able to produce accessible documents is a good work-life skill for the future.
  • a user may request an accessible copy, it's more difficult to convert an existing document.
  • some aspects of ensuring accessibility make writing and editing a thesis easier, e.g., the correct use of headings helps with table of content.

What is an accessible document?

The accessibility guidelines exist to make sure that as many people as possible can access the information, for example, using screen readers.

There are many of styles and structures you can use to make your document accessible. The examples below are taken from the Government's guidance on producing accessible documents.

  • Give the document a meaningful title.
  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short.
  • Use a sans serif font like Arial or Helvetica. Use a minimum size of 12 points.
  • Use sentence case. Avoid all caps text and italics.
  • Make sure the text is left aligned, not justified.
  • Avoid underlining, except for links.
  • Make sure any link text clearly describes where the link will go. 
  • Documents with single, continuous columns of text are easier to make accessible than documents with a more complex layout.
  • Only use tables for data. Keep tables simple: avoid splitting or merging cells.
  • Do not use things like colour or shape alone to get across meaning. This is because instructions like ‘click the big green button’ rely on the user’s ability to see the page.
  • For images or charts provide ALT text, or tag them as ‘decorative’;
  • It’s also best to avoid images containing text, as it’s not possible to resize the text in the image.
  • Avoid footnotes where possible. Provide explanations in line instead.
  • Break up your document to make it more readable. Use bullet points, numbered steps and meaningful subheadings.
  • Use styles to create a hierarchy of headings: ‘heading 1’, ‘heading 2’ and so on - a screen reader will recognise the formatting and read out the content correctly.
  • Also use styles for things like tables and bullet lists.

Making your documents accessible

There are many guides available to help you create and check accessible Word and PowerPoint documents. Here are some examples, including the Microsoft advice, you can find alternatives online.


Microsoft: make your Word documents accessible

Webaim have a good guide on converting your Word files to accessible PDFs

Video guide Creating Accessible Word Documents



Microsoft: make your Powerpoint presentations accessible

Video guide Creating Accessible PowerPoint Presentations



Once you have completed your documents make sure you use the Inspect Document accessibility checker in the Word and Powerpoint File menus:



Video Content

Video content accessibility means including things like captions/subtitles, a transcript, and an audio description. 



For other document types use the same principles and look for guidance online.