Accessibility advice for educators

Materials hosted on Minerva and other virtual learning environments need to comply with web accessibility standards as far as possible, even if you don’t think you currently have any disabled students. You should aim to make improvements to your content over time. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Professor Anna Lawson sitting with her guide dog

Use Blackboard Ally

Blackboard Ally is a tool that identifies and helps you fix accessibility issues in content in Minerva. Students can download accessible content in formats that suit their learning needs and preferences, creating an inclusive learning experience. For further information about how to make the most of this tool, read the guide to Blackboard Ally.

Create an accessibility statement

It’s not always possible to make all of the content within learning and teaching resources fully accessible for all users. Creating an accessibility statement will ensure transparency for students with accessibility requirements. This guide will help when creating your own accessibility statement.

Follow guidance for PowerPoint, Word and PDFs

Learning how to create materials which are accessible from the start will save time in the long run. It is also important to find out how to remediate any issues in materials you’ve already created. This short video introduces some simple ways in which a PowerPoint presentation can be made accessible.


This video was produced by Dr Clare Dowzer, Senior Learning Technologist in the Leeds Institute of Health Sciences. Video transcript

For more advice, visit our checklists:

Dr Miro Griffiths needs accessible documents and websites for all his work

Complex images and diagrams

For complex images used in learning and teaching materials, there may be pedagogical reasons why a full alt-text description cannot be provided. You therefore won’t always need to add a full description. However, it is still best practice not to leave the alt-text field blank.

See our advice on complex images for more information.

This decision tree for the use of alt-text is also very useful.

Handwritten notes

Where possible, handwritten notes should be converted into electronic text, not scanned as an image. This can be achieved in different ways, for example automatically using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software, manually typed, or by audio-narrating the content and auto-captioning the resulting recording.

For more information visit the guidance on handwritten notes and how to obtain OCR software.

Captions with video

An auto-captioning facility is now provided via all teaching platforms we use at Leeds, but it is important to note that the functionality does not yet provide a fully accessible experience for disabled users. Specific advice for educators is provided to help you use the systems in the most manageable and effective way.

Advice for creating accessible maths

Teaching content including equations and maths notation is typically created in a PDF format which cannot be read by screen reading software. The School of Maths has, therefore, provided guidance on creating accessible maths content.

What other accessibility guidance would be useful?

Use the following short form to let the relevant team know how we can improve or add to the current guidance to make Leeds more accessible to colleagues, students and visitors to the university.

Let us know here