Digital Accessibility

With thanks to Jen­ny His­el­er, who put this togeth­er! We are repost­ing from a doc­u­ment she pro­duced in March 2021. 

Accessibility and Disability

 IFL vs. PFL: my pref­er­ence by Zip­po­rah Arielle, 30 August 2019. A blog post which explains iden­ti­ty-first (IFL) and per­son-first lan­guage (PFL).

The Dif­fer­ence Between D/deaf, Hard of Hear­ing and Hear­ing-Impaired by Con­nect­Hear, 18 August 2020. An expla­na­tion of var­i­ous terms and links to addi­tion­al resources.

New Data on Dis­abil­i­ty in Cana­da, 2017 from Sta­tis­tics Cana­da, 28 Novem­ber 2018. An info­graph­ic about dis­abil­i­ty types and preva­lence in Cana­da. Note: this page has been archived but it is the most up-to-date Stats Cana­da infor­ma­tion on disability.


The Ulti­mate Guide to Closed Cap­tion­ing by 3Play Media, 2021. An approach­able overview of closed cap­tions: what they are, their impor­tance, and what makes good or bad cap­tions. Note: this resource is writ­ten by a ven­dor of cap­tion­ing ser­vices but is not intend­ed as an endorsement.

Which is the Best Auto­mat­ic Cap­tion­ing Tool for Video Calls? by Meryl Evans, 22 April 2020. Evans is a Deaf dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­al. This blog post points out things which make auto­mat­ic cap­tions good or bad. It does a sum­ma­ry and com­par­i­son of sev­er­al tools.

Get­ting Start­ed with Closed Cap­tion­ing from Zoom, 2021. Step-by-step instruc­tions on set­ting up auto­mat­ic cap­tions (“live tran­scrip­tion”), man­u­al closed cap­tion­ing, or closed cap­tions by a third-par­ty ser­vice. Includes a video.

Add Your Own Closed Cap­tions, YouTube Help Cen­tre, 2021. This is one way of clean­ing up inac­cu­rate cap­tions or adding cap­tions to a record­ing that didn’t have them.


The Ben­e­fits of Deaf Inter­preters, by ASLized! An ASL video with Eng­lish cap­tions which explains how includ­ing Deaf inter­preters pro­vides bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion than only hav­ing ASL inter­preters, with exam­ples. 2 min­utes 16 sec­onds long.

Signed Lan­guage vs Sign Lan­guage, Deaf Cul­ture Cen­tre, 23 June 2014. A short expla­na­tion about why the terms are dif­fer­ent, and when to use each.

ASL Inter­preters, Ryer­son Uni­ver­si­ty Dig­i­tal Media Projects Tool­box: Zoom. This sec­tion is part of a much larg­er “Acces­si­bil­i­ty in Zoom” resource. Some infor­ma­tion is spe­cif­ic to Ryer­son but most of it is gen­er­al­ly helpful.

Plain Language and Clarity

What is Plain Lan­guage? and some use­ful check­lists and hand­outs by the Unit­ed States Gov­ern­ment Plain Lan­guage Action and Infor­ma­tion Net­work (PLAIN). These resources are direct­ed at fed­er­al employ­ees but give good gen­er­al advice on mak­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions eas­i­er to read and understand.

The Hem­ing­way Edi­tor. This desk­top tool will help you write in plain lan­guage. Delete the con­tent in the cen­tre of the page and either start com­pos­ing or paste some­thing in. It will pro­vide a read­ing lev­el and high­light prob­lem areas, which you can change.

Social Media

‘Loud­ly Cry­ing Face’: Your cute emo­jis are spoil­ing social media for blind users. CBC Radio, Spark, 19 Jan­u­ary 2018. Sassy Out­wa­ter describes what hap­pens when you use too many emo­jis, in the wrong place. 5 min­utes 40 seconds.

Inclu­sive Design for Social Media: Tips for Cre­at­ing Acces­si­ble Chan­nels, on the Hoot­suite blog, 15 Octo­ber 2020. This overview for con­tent cre­ators out­lines 10 key activities.

How to Make Images Acces­si­ble for Peo­ple – Twit­ter help.

How do I edit the alter­na­tive text for a pho­to on Face­book? – Face­book help.

How do I edit the alter­na­tive text for a pho­to on Insta­gram? – Insta­gram help.

Hosting Accessible Online Events

Which Video Con­fer­enc­ing Tools Are Most Acces­si­ble? By Clau­dio Luis Vera for Smash­ing Mag­a­zine, 15 June 2020. This arti­cle is writ­ten for a UX and front-end devel­op­er mag­a­zine but is approach­able and cov­ers things like Google Meets, Skype and Webex.

Acces­si­bil­i­ty Fre­quent­ly Asked Ques­tions by Zoom. A list of ques­tions link­ing out to “how to” on a vari­ety of sub­jects includ­ing screen shar­ing, cap­tions, and interpreters.

Zoom fatigue is real. An arti­cle by Vig­nesh Ramachan­dran for Stan­ford News, 23 Feb­ru­ary 2021. Their researchers found four main caus­es and rec­om­mend some fixes.

Presentations and Meetings

10 Habits to Cre­ate Acces­si­ble Con­tent, Clint Cov­ing­ton on the Microsoft Acces­si­bil­i­ty Blog, 16 Octo­ber 2020. This blog post gives gen­er­al advice for sev­er­al types of com­mu­ni­ca­tions. The entire blog is worth check­ing out.

How To Make Your Pre­sen­ta­tions Acces­si­ble to All,  a resource from the W3C Web Acces­si­bil­i­ty Ini­tia­tive (WAI). This whole site is a lit­tle dry but very infor­ma­tive and accu­rate. The W3C is the orga­ni­za­tion which sets (defines, writes) the inter­na­tion­al stan­dard for web acces­si­bil­i­ty: WCAG, or the Web Con­tent Acces­si­bil­i­ty Guidelines.

Make your Pow­er­Point pre­sen­ta­tions acces­si­ble to peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, on the Microsoft Sup­port page. Start here to learn about Pow­er­Point acces­si­bil­i­ty tech­niques and the Acces­si­bil­i­ty Check­er. Dig deep­er and there is much more to explore on Office prod­ucts and Teams.

Other Resources

Clear Print Guide­lines by the CNIB. This is a non-tech­ni­cal overview to help you get start­ed in cre­at­ing more read­able doc­u­ments for peo­ple not using screen-read­er technology.

Access For­ward. Free self-direct­ed train­ing to help your orga­ni­za­tion meet the require­ments of the Acces­si­bil­i­ty for Ontar­i­ans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act.

“Mis­match: How Inclu­sion Shapes Design” by Kat Holmes. An inter­est­ing read on acces­si­bil­i­ty, inclu­sion, and design (but not about online pro­gram­ming). This link directs you to the Cen­tre for Equi­table Library Access, anoth­er great resource. 

Some sam­ple acces­si­bil­i­ty state­ments: Toron­to Com­ic Arts Fes­ti­val and The­atre Passe Muraille.

For if you’re more technical

Acces­si­bil­i­ty Fun­da­men­tals Overview, from the W3C Web Acces­si­bil­i­ty Ini­tia­tive (WAI). Use­ful for those respon­si­ble for cre­at­ing web sites and web content.

WAVE Web Acces­si­bil­i­ty Eval­u­a­tion Tool. This Chrome and Fire­fox exten­sion helps iden­ti­fy bar­ri­ers on a web­site, how­ev­er it doesn’t replace a real audit or test­ing with users. There are oth­er auto­mat­ed tools out there as well, such as this one for check­ing many pages at once.

Colour Con­trast Analyser (CCA) by TPGi. This pop­u­lar tool allows you to enter colour val­ues or use an eye­drop tool to fig­ure out if the colours you’re work­ing with have enough con­trast to be read­able and to meet leg­is­lat­ed requirements.

Col­or Acces­si­bil­i­ty: Tools and resources to help you design inclu­sive prod­ucts, by Stéphanie Wal­ter. Lots of infor­ma­tion and links to tools (like the TPGi CCA, above) for design­ers and con­tent cre­ators of all types.

Why Acces­si­bil­i­ty Over­lay Solu­tions Fail to Pro­tect or Serve, Acces­si­bil­i­ty Works, updat­ed 19 March 2021. A famil­iar wid­get is User­Way. A noto­ri­ous over­lay is acces­si­Be. You can also check out the Over­lay Fact Sheet.