Accessible Course Materials

By Federal law, students with disabilities must be given "substantially equivalent ease of access" to course materials as any other student. At Swarthmore, a number of students access their course materials using screen readers and text-to-speech programs such as JAWS and Kurzweil. Other students need captioning and/or audio description for videos. We have created step-by-step instructions to help you create Word documents, PDFs, Powerpoints, websites and videos that are accessible to all students before they enroll in a class. 

If you are designing a new course or updating an older one, we encourage you to check to be sure that any articles or media you are posting on Moodle, course websites or distributing in class are accessible to individuals with disabilities.  Please don't hesitate to contact the ITS Help Desk at or X4357 or Leslie Hempling, Coordinator of Student Disability Services at if you have any questions. We are happy to help.

Optimizing for Text-to-Speech

Word Documents [pdf]
PDF files [pdf]
Powerpoint and Keynote presentations [pdf]
Webpages [pdf]

Captioning Media

Please purchase videos that contain captioning, a visual representation of audio with more than subtitles. If you cannot find a captioned video, consult with Doug Willen in the Media Center.  You will want to plan ahead as creating captions can take weeks. If your students are creating video, please ask them to include captions.


To learn more about legal issues and accessible course materials, please visit the National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials website.