Skip to Main Content

Best Practices in Accessibility for Purchasing and Marketing E-Resources: Marketing and Visual Design

Accessibility in Design: Print

To make your marketing/ outreach content whether print or digital, fully accessible to visually impaired users, the following is recommended:

  • Use SVG file format, a format developed/maintained by W3C, is easily scalable and will not blur an image.
  • Large print is minimum 14 pt type, preferably 16 to 18 pt. type.
  • Large bolded characters, in upper and lowercase and all caps for titles/headlines.
  • Use Sans Serif font only (Ariel, Geneva, Tahoma, Vedana, etc.) not Serif (Times New Roman, Cambria, Garamond, etc.)
  • Aim for simplicity and consistency so as not to confuse the reader. 
  • Use a non-glare matte finish and ensure all materials placed in a well-lit, not overly bright area.
  • ADA suggestion is a 70% contrast between the sign background and lettering.

**All ADA quality rules apply only to permanent signage. Directional permanent signage do not require tactile characters. Temporary signage and directories do not legally require these ADA rules but it is best practice to consider how to incorporate these quality standards in all library signage.**

Accessibility in Design: Web/ Online

Patrons will encounter many items digitally when accessing online materials. In general, HTML content are easily accessible and should be used whenever possible. WebAIM lists their Principles of Accessible Design for digital materials, a very useful guide.  A user in general should be able to use their screen reader software to hear alt-text and they should be able to enlarge print as well as adjust the color & contrast. For non-HTML items, like Word documents, PowerPoint, PDF's, and Flash content, there are other useful guidelines. Below are some best practice tips for accessibility in design for online/ web materials. 

HTML Content

  • Provide descriptions or <alt> tags for images (non-text items) in html with descriptive text. This way, patrons using adaptive technologies such as screen reader can read the descriptions.
  • Make sure you can easily tab through the content on a webpage and that the pages are easily navigable. Skip navigation elements are useful.
  • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) can be helpful for building web content because they separate presentation form content.
  • Use headings to structure content on webpages and make sure every element (e.g., text boxes, drop-down menus) are labeled. It is recommended to use the 'Strong' heading.
  • All videos should have closed captioning and all audio should have transcripts.
  • Content should be clear, well-written and uncluttered.
  • Text should be no less than 12 pt. font and it should be able to be resized up until 200% without assistive technology (AT).

Non- HTML Content

  • Make sure PDF's have OCR (Optical Character Recognition). This turns an image document into a fully editable document, allowing you to search the text; edit, insert, and delete text; change text formatting; and re-size and remove images.
  • PDF documents should also include a series of tags to make it more accessible. A tagged PDF file looks the same, but it is almost always more accessible to a person using a screen reader.
  • For Word docs encountered digitally, use the 'Strong' heading so screen reader software can identify the text. 
  • Screen reader users may not be able to access content within an added PowerPoint text box. Use a new layout or add another content placeholder .The most accessible way of distributing PowerPoint slideshows is by exporting them into a PDF or into HTML.
  • Slide transitions and animations that require multiple clicks may result in inaccessible PowerPoint presentations.

For additional tips on how to create accessible PDF's or Microsoft Office Documents, please visit CUNY's IT accessibility 'how to' page. Additional instructions are available on how to use the accessibility checker in WORD and Adobe Acrobat Pro for images and PDF's.   


Universal Design

Universal design means that, rather than design your services and facility for the average user, you design them for people with a broad range of abilities and disabilities. Patrons may have a range of learning and cognitive disabilities as well as visual, speech, hearing, and mobility impairments. Universal design benefits everyone in theory and practice. Here are some best practices and simple techniques for universal design that you can incorporate in your library.

  • Make large print call-number signage on all shelving. This can be helpful for low vision and LD students.
  • Place signage in a low enough area for wheelchairs users or other physical disabilities. Signage should also be placed in a well lit, glare free area.
  • Prepare all library handouts and printed materials in large print, braille (if able), and in a digitally accessible format. online prior to a library class or an event.
  • All digitally accessible formats should be available prior to a class (e.g., in a course management system like Blackboard) or an event (e.g., links pointing to location online to download). Another idea is to copy materials to a memory stick.

Summary of 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design for Signs

703.1 General. Signs shall comply with 703. Where both visual and tactile characters are required, either one sign with both visual and tactile characters, or two separate signs, one with visual, and one with tactile characters, shall be provided.

703.2 Raised Characters. Raised characters shall comply with 703.2 and shall be duplicated in braille complying with 703.3. Raised characters shall be installed in accordance with 703.4.

Advisory 703.2 Raised Characters. Signs that are designed to be read by touch should not have sharp or abrasive edges.

703.2.1 Depth. Raised characters shall be 1/32 inch (0.8 mm) minimum above their background.

703.2.2 Case. Characters shall be uppercase.

703.2.3 Style. Characters shall be sans serif. Characters shall not be italic, oblique, script, highly decorative, or of other unusual forms.

703.2.4 Character Proportions. Characters shall be selected from fonts where the width of the uppercase letter "O" is 55 percent minimum and 110 percent maximum of the height of the uppercase letter "I".

703.2.5 Character Height. Character height measured vertically from the baseline of the character shall be 5/8 inch (16 mm) minimum and 2 inches (51 mm) maximum based on the height of the uppercase letter "I".

EXCEPTION: Where separate raised and visual characters with the same information are provided, raised character height shall be permitted to be 1/2 inch (13 mm) minimum.

Summary of 2010 Standards for Accessible Design for Pictograms/ Symbols

703.6.1 Pictogram Field. Pictograms shall have a field height of 6 inches (150 mm) minimum. Characters and braille shall not be located in the pictogram field.

Pictogram that shows the simplified profile of a person seated in a wheelchair.  

Figure 703.7.2.1 International Symbol of Accessibility

Pictogram of a TTY showing the keyboard and space bar typical of most devices and the shape of a telephone handset at the top.  

Figure 703.7.2.2 International Symbol of TTY

Pictogram of a telephone handset in profile with radiating sound waves.  

Figure 703.7.2.3 Volume Control Telephone

Pictogram with the shape of an ear and a bar diagonally across the shape.  

Figure 703.7.2.4 International Symbol of Access for Hearing Loss

Marketing to the Disabled

Have You Considered Universal Information Access To?

  • Media releases, newsletters and e-newsletters?
  • Library brochures and event programs?
  • Advertising and social media?
  • Websites?
  • Calendar of events?
  • Any other publicity material (e.g. posters, flyers, text messages)?

Marketing Through Library Signage

The use of library signage as a marketing tool has been discussed by Versotek (2005) in Undergraduate Libraries and Jones, McCandless, Kiblinger, Giles, and McCabe (2011) in Collection Management journal. They noted how signage, among other marketing techniques, was used to promote books and lead to a dramatic increase in circulation numbers according to Polger and Stempler in April- June issue of Public Services Quarterly.

Digital signage is the display of information in electronic form, usually on a video display (LCD or plasma) or through a projector aimed at a screen or blank wall. Content can take the form of still images, animation, Web pages, or video. Digital signage may incorporate sound, screen crawls, or picture-in-a-picture technology as well as such interactive features as touch-screen functionality, two-way voice-and-video communication, and cell phone interaction. They are easy to update and flexible in design with high contrast (HD). Best practices are clear, high contrast, non-glare still images with the option to turn audio on/off and  text to speech functionality.