COU wants this contest to be open to all students at publicly funded universities in Ontario. To that end, the Mental Health 2.0 team has put together a step-by-step resource guide to help you create accessible, inclusive submissions.
STEP 1: GENERAL TIPS
There are a few simple formatting guidelines that you can follow to make your submissions more accessible. Meeting this standard is easy. For example, by using the Arial font, with a size between 12 and 18 points, you can make the text in a Word document easier to read for people with low vision. In addition to the text on this page, you can explore the links below to find information on appropriate language, font guidelines, layout tips, and colour protocols:
- Language Guidelines
You should use inclusive language throughout your Mental Health 2.0 submission. We recommend following the guidelines in Human Resources and Skills Development Canada’s guide, A Way with Words and Images, to ensure your language is inclusive.
- Font and Layout Guidelines
You should follow the Clear Print Guidelines in the COU Accessibility Toolkit to ensure that everyone can comfortably review your work. It is easier for someone with low vision, for example, to see a large, simple font than a small, decorative font. By following these guidelines, you can also make your document more accessible for people with assistive devices, such as screen readers.
- Colour Protocol
You should use a colour scheme with a strong contrast between any text and the background, so people with low vision can comfortably review your work. See the Clear Print Guidelines section of the COU Accessibility Toolkit for more information. You can also use VisCheck to verify that your colour scheme is accessible. This web tool allows users to scan documents for proper colour contrast. Additional resources that may be helpful to include AccessAbility: A Practical Handbook on Graphic Design and the CNIB’s Clear Print Design Standard.
STEP 2: ACCESSIBILITY GUIDELINES BY PLATFORM
You will reach a larger audience by following accessibility guidelines. The following resources will help you create accessible submissions across a wide variety of platforms. Feel free to email COU if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility issues.
STEP 2(A): DIGITAL DOCUMENTS
There are many formatting techniques to keep in mind, if you decide to submit an accessible digital document. We hope that the resources below will prove helpful as you produce your submission.
Do you want to create a Word Processor Document?
From the list below, please select the software that you will be using to create your word processor document. The hyperlink will take you to step-by-step instructions for creating accessible documents within your chosen software.
Do you want to create a PDF?
You can create accessible PDF documents using Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro.
Do you want to create a Slide Show?
From the list below, please select the software that you will be using to create your slide show. The hyperlink will take you to step-by-step instructions for creating accessible documents within your chosen software.
STEP 2(B): WEBSITES AND VIDEOS
Websites and videos can add great value to your submission; however, they are not free of accessibility barriers. The resources below should help you overcome these barriers, and thereby reach a wider audience.
Do you want to create a Website?
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. The W3C website has detailed information regarding all accessibility standards for the web. Similarly, w3schools.com is an excellent resource with the most up-to-date information regarding current (and future) web standards. The University of Toronto: Web Accessibility Tip Sheet also contains helpful information. If you would like to double-check your work, you can use the web tool A-Checker to scan your website for accessibility problems.
Do you want to create a Video?
Captioning and described video are both important media accommodations that assist individuals with low hearing to access the video’s soundtrack.
Captioning provides the viewer with a verbatim, synchronized transcript of all spoken words, non-speech utterance, as well as background sounds. Below are some tips and resources to help you understand how to caption effectively within your media submission.
Also referred to as “audio description,” this tool provides an audio narration of important details that cannot be understood from the main soundtrack alone.
Check out the following resources on captioning and described video.
The Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) offers a number of useful resources for making videos accessible, including style guides, web tools, and tips about shooting your videos.
YouTube has made a strong commitment to accessible content development. Users can upload captions along with their own videos, and even offer to caption other contributors’ content.
A growing number of universities are offering captioned and described video content. Watch the captioned videos from the Guelph Accessibility Conference on the AODA Information and Communication Standard.
STEP 3: IMPORTANT
Please be thorough when exploring the different options and sites provided for your accessible submission. To be eligible for the prizes, all Mental Health 2.0 submissions must be accessible. Creating accessible files will also be beneficial to you throughout your future career!