Visually appealing newsletters created by faculty and staff need to be accessible to everyone.

Though newsletter can be created in a variety of software applications, they are distributed in only 2 methods: (I will mention web-based newsletters at the end of this tutorial)

  • Microsoft Word document
  • PDF document

Nice to look at but NOT Accessible to all

Newsletters created with the look of a magazine page or advertisement contain text in boxes and images placed on the page for visual appeal.

Here is an example made in Microsoft Word:

SMC Ethics newsletter

This document would not be accessible to everyone. Persons with visual impairments may have issues with the contrast of the light blue text on gray background.

Persons using a screen reader would have multiple issues from lack of alt text, headings, and reading order.

Microsoft Word has a built-in Accessibility Checker. See the results below from an accessibility check of the SMC Ethics newsletter:

Results from accessibility checker in MS Word

The multiple errors are the result of using text boxes. Screenreading software identifies text boxes as objects.

Creating an Accessible Alternative

Recreating an accessible version and making sure everyone has access to the accessible version is necessary because of the nature of the newsletter layout.

This is accomplished by taking all of the relevant content and inserting it into a new document. Here is how this is done:

After deleting all unnecessary decorative lines, borders, shading and font colors with contrast issues, copy and place the relevant content into a new Word document.

Here's how the new document looks:

Accessible newsletter

Alt Text

To add alt text, simply right-click and click on Format Picture...

right-click to format picture

Add the description of the image in alt text area

entering alt text

Add headings to document

adding heading 1 and 2

Run Accessibility Check

accessibility checker in Word

Enjoy the result

Accessibility Checker results 

Make accessible version available

It is of the utmost importance to make sure everyone has easy access to the accessible newsletter version.

Web-based Newsletters

Use the accessible Word document as the content provider for use in Canvas or SharePoint. Use the tools provided within Canvas and SharePoint to maintain accessibility.

Contact us if you feel we need to create a tutorial on creating visually appealing web-based newsletters in Canvas or SharePoint.

Tom Peters - peters_thomas@smc.edu

Shawn Jordison - jordison_shawn@smc.edu