Keep Calm and Check Accessibility Week 3: All About Reading

People who might have trouble reading print often use text-to-speech programs or screen readers.

A text-to-speech program is any program, app, or extension that reads text aloud. These programs only read text and will not read out buttons, navigation instructions, or alt text for pictures. Many people use text-to-speech programs including people with low vision, dyslexia, learning differences, and concussions/TBI. Additionally, there are many people without particular accessibility needs who enjoy using text-to-speech to be more productive and streamline their workflow.  On the other hand, screen readers are programs that read out every element on screen and give navigation instructions, with the assumption that the user cannot see anything on the screen. Screen readers are primarily used by people who are blind.

When creating your files, it is important to create them in such a way that people who have varying levels of visual acuity and people who listen to text are able to access all the written information.

Color contrast, font, size, and plain language

When creating a document, it is important to be mindful of how your text appears. The color, font, and size all make a difference in whether someone can read the text or not. Here are some tips to make sure your text is readable.

Color Contrast

It’s important that there is sufficient color contrast between the color of the text and the background so that people with low vision conditions can read it easily. Generally, black text on a white background is a good option, because it is readable by a large population. If you are planning on using different colors, please use a color contrast analyzing tool to make sure that there is sufficient contrast.

Font and Size

It is best to use a san serif font when writing, as these fonts are most accessible. Please avoid any overly ornate fonts that can make it hard to distinguish letters. Additionally, underlining text or using italics can make it difficult for some people to distinguish letters. If you must emphasize a portion of text, using bold letters is the best choice.

It is recommended that font size be above 11 point font to ensure accessibility.

Signifying Important Information

Sometimes people make text bold or a different color to signify important information. However, this is not a good system to use since people who access documents by listening to a screen reader or text-to-speech program will not be able to hear “bold” or “color.”

For this reason, if you need to signify important text, it is important to do so in more than one way. For example, if you write the word “important” and then write the information that is important, a person will be able to hear that read aloud. Likewise, if you write a note that important text will be signified by an asterisk and then use an asterisk to note important text, a person listening will be able to hear the asterisk read aloud.  In conclusion, it is okay to use bold font or colored font to signify importance, but if you do so, you must also have an additional way of noting its importance that a text-to-speech program or screen reader will be able to speak aloud.

Plain Language

Its important to write content that everyone can understand. Highly intelligent people can struggle with reading comprehension for a variety of reasons, ranging from having a learning difference to reading a text in their non-native language. Following plain language guidelines in your writing will ensure that text is as accessible as possible.

For this week’s clue, complete the activity listed under Week 3 in the Keep Calm and Check Accessibility Moodle Page.

Keep Calm and Check Accessibility Week 2: Headings 

To understand accessibility, it is helpful to understand how people who use assistive technology navigate elements on the computer. For example, some people with limited functional vision use a tool called a screen reader. A screen reader reads aloud all the elements on a screen and allows the user to navigate through these elements using keyboard commands.  

Since screen reader users often cannot see the screen, to skim through a document or webpage they navigate by headings, listening to each heading to get a gist of what the article contains. If headings are not programmed correctly, the screen reader will not be able to detect them, and the user will need to listen to the entire webpage read aloud in order to know what is on the screen. This process can be very time-consuming and confusing.  

To best support people who navigate by headings, there are two main things to remember. 

  1. First, make sure that you have correctly programmed the headings in your documents. To do so, highlight your heading, click Styles, and then click the appropriate heading type. Read this article for more information about how to create headings.  
  1. Secondly, make sure your headings are stacked in the right order. There should only be one Heading 1, and that should be the title of your document. The rest of the headings should be labeled in an appropriate sequence without skipping over a heading type. (For example, don’t go from a Heading 2 to a Heading 4, always go from a Heading 2 to a Heading 3 to signify a subheading below the Heading 2 level heading.) The picture below shows a good example of headings arranged properly. 

Picture of headings arranged in the correct order. 

When you create proper headings, you will see a little triangle appear when you hover the mouse over the text. This means that the heading has been programmed. Once the heading is programmed, if you don’t like the automatic font of the heading, you can change it by selecting a new font under Font Name and Font Size. 

For this week’s treasure hunt clue, log onto the Moodle page and complete the activity under Week 2. 

If you have any questions, please reach out to Grace Cipressi.  

Keep Calm and Check Accessibility Challenge: Week 1

What Does it Mean to Check Accessibility?

Welcome to the Keep Calm and Check Accessibility challenge! Throughout our Keep Calm and Check Accessibility challenge, you will learn about the basic elements needed to create an accessible document. We’ll start out by discussing Word documents and then finish by talking about elements specific to creating accessible PowerPoints and PDFs.

Each week, read the LITS blog post explaining the featured accessibility element. Next, log onto the Keep Calm and Check Accessibility Moodle page to complete that week’s activity. When you finish the week’s activity, you will receive a clue. Each clue is a line to a poem that will lead you on a treasure hunt. Solve the riddle in the poem and find where your prize for completing the challenge will be hidden on campus.

To get started, you have two important tasks this week.
  1. Log onto Moodle and self-register for the Keep Calm and Check Accessibility Moodle page.
    1. Click the gear icon
    2. Click enroll me in this course
  2. Complete the challenge listed under Week 1 to get the first clue.

Inside Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, there is a tool called the Accessibility Checker. This tool helps you proofread your document or presentation to make sure it is accessible. To access it, go to Review and then click Check Accessibility. A box will pop up on the right side of your screen and list any accessibility issues found.

To learn more about Microsoft’s Check Accessibility read this article.

RESOLVED: Problems Printing to Canons from College-Owned Macs

Update, 2:25pm: This issue has been resolved and community members should again be able to print to Canon printers from College-owned Macs. Printing from personal Macs is still unavailable.

Thank you for your patience while we resolved this issue. Contact the Help Desk with any questions or to report any lingering issues: or 610-526-7440.

Several community members have reported problems printing to Canon printers from Macs across campus. LITS is investigating the issue and will provide additional information as we have it.

Contact the Help Desk with questions: or 610-526-7440.

Warning: New Phishing Attempt

Please be aware of a recent attempt to gather login, password, and other secure personal or College data from Bryn Mawr College community members.

Be on the lookout for messages that appear to be a password expiration notice from your Microsoft account. This is a scam.

Do not click links or respond in any way. Delete the message or report it as Phishing in Outlook. If you believe you’ve given your information to a phisher, immediately change your password and contact the Help Desk.

Email scams come in many forms. While we work to keep you informed, attacks are increasingly diverse and sophisticated. It’s not possible for us to warn you of every message before you see it. Be cautious and suspicious. If you ever have a question or suspicion, don’t hesitate to contact the Help Desk.

Contact the Help Desk with questions:, 610-526-7440, or

Tips to Avoid E-Borrow Delays

As you may have noticed, the E-ZBorrow interlibrary loan system has switched to new software.  While we believe that this software will improve service in the long run, there are some important steps to follow to avoid delays:

  • When searching for a book, if you get more than one correct hit, please click on the title of the book to see how many libraries within E-ZBorrow own that book, and pick the result that is owned by the most libraries.
    • Results which say “Located: Multiple Libraries” are better choices than those that have a single university name next to “Located.”
    • Choosing results owned by multiple libraries allows the system to automatically move on to other libraries if the first library queried does not have the book, which reduces response time and the need to resubmit requests.
  • Once you have chosen a result and clicked the “Request” button, you will be asked to “Select Home Institution” from a drop down list: be sure to choose Bryn Mawr.
  • Your “barcode” is the number below the actual barcode in the lower-right hand corner of your OneCard. Your barcode begins with 2179600; be sure to enter all 14 digits.
    • Do not use the number immediately below your picture; this is your college ID number.

Eventually, we expect that only one hit for each item will appear regardless of how many libraries own it, and that you will be able to use your Bryn Mawr username and password to log into the system. We appreciate your patience while these enhancements are developed, and apologize for the inconvenience.

If you have any questions, please contact us at