Accessible Content for All: Building Equity & Engagement with Tech Tools

Designing Accessible Documents

When educators design content for students, there are important tips and tricks for making sure all students can access, read and respond to the content. Many students may choose to have text read aloud as their preferred learning style, while other students may require use of a screen reader as an accommodation to listen to documents read aloud. Some students who are blind may also need to hear explicit descriptions of pictures and hyperlinks read aloud throughout content.  Which of your students can you see benefiting from having content read aloud?

Section Objective:  

  • Identify 2 ways to make a document accessible to people of different abilities

Review Tip 1 in SETC's document 8 Tips to Make Curriculum Content Accessible

Accessible Documents

The Center for Applied Special Technologies (CAST) offers the acronym POUR to guide us through tips to create accessible documents.  View this video to learn more about POUR(Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust):

Designing for Accessibility with POUR (3:05 min.)


The National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) outlines some clear guidelines for creating accessible documents and presentations.  One of the tricks for remembering these practices is the mnemonic SLIDE, which stands for styles, links, images, design, and evaluation.  Read more in this article about how to create and evaluate your documents for accessibility:  Creating Accessible Documents  

Note:  You can use the practice documents at the above link to apply the techniques learned and then check your accessibility before and after your learning.

CAST released a new tipsheet in 2023: Tips for Accessible Education Materials  This concise resource may be useful to print out, distribute at meetings and have handy by your computer when creating new content.

Microsoft Accessibility Checker

One of the best ways to check the accessibililty of documents and presentations is to use the Microsoft Accessibility Checker.  Check out this video to see how it works:

Making Documents Accessible - Microsoft 365 (3:42 min.)


What would this look like in my classroom?

Lesson Tip:  Run all your Microsoft PowerPoint and Word instructional documents through the Microssoft Accessibility checker.  Now, ALL of your students will be able to access your content with read aloud tools!

Microsoft Word Document BEFORE Accessibility Check
Microsoft Word Document AFTER Accessibility Check

check mark


1. From what you have learned, can you identify 1 change you will make when creating classroom materials?

2. Reflect on the Self Assessment Rubric below as you think about applying your learning to your instructional practice. Where are you on the continuum?

level 1

level 2

level 3

I have a general understanding on different ways to make documents accessible.I watched the video on Designing for Accessbility with POUR, studied the CAST website links on this topic, and am able to Identify 2 ways to make a document accessible.I chose a specific instructional document I use, practiced running the accessibility checker on that document and made the suggested changes.


  • POUR - The acronym POUR stands for Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust.  These 4 qualities define an accessible user experience.
  • AEM - Accessible Education Materials (AEM) are print and technology-based materials usable for learning across all student ages and abilities to support teaching and learning
  • Accessibility - The practice of making information, activities, and/or environments sensible, meaningful, and usable for as many people as possible.
  • SLIDE - A mnemonic that stands for styles, links, images, design and evaluation which represent the guidelines for creating accessible documents and presentations.