Images, graphics, animations, video, or text are often the optimal way to present information, especially when the information is about the relationships between objects, actions, numbers, or events. But such visual representations are not equally accessible to all learners, especially learners with visual disabilities or those who are not familiar with the type of graphic being used. Visual information can be quite dense, particularly with visual art, which can have multiple complex meanings and interpretations depending on contextual factors and the viewer’s knowledge base. To ensure that all learners have equal access to information, it is essential to provide non-visual alternatives.
- Provide descriptions (text or spoken) for all images, graphics, video, or animations
- Use touch equivalents (tactile graphics or objects of reference) for key visuals that represent concepts
- Provide physical objects and spatial models to convey perspective or interaction
- Provide auditory cues for key concepts and transitions in visual information
Text is a special case of visual information. The transformation from text into audio is among the most easily accomplished methods for increasing accessibility. The advantage of text over audio is its permanence, but providing text that is easily transformable into audio accomplishes that permanence without sacrificing the advantages of audio. Digital synthetic text-to-speech is increasingly effective but still disappoints in its ability to carry the valuable information in prosody.
- Follow accessibility standards (NIMAS, DAISY, etc.) when creating digital text
- Allow for a competent aide, partner, or “intervener” to read text aloud
- Provide access to text-to-speech software