Carnegie Mellon University

Digital Accessibility 

Accessibility is the degree to which a product, device, service, or environment is accessible to individuals with disabilities or other special needs. “Digital Accessibility” concerns the ability of persons with disabilities to access electronic resources such as the internet, software, mobile devices, e-readers, etc. Carnegie Mellon is committed to making its programs and facilities accessible to all members of the university community, including students with disabilities. This commitment to accessibility extends to digital, electronic, multimedia and other technology resources at the university. Below are some resources that departments may use to help ensure that electronic resources and other technology is provided to university community members in an accessible manner. For assistance requesting accessible software or other materials not listed below please email our office.

If you aren’t sure where to start, review our instructor-led accessibility overview [CMU login required].

This handout on making accessible PDFs takes you through a step-by-step process on how to test for PDF accessibility and fix any issues.

You can also review our Digital Accessibility for Document Creators course [CMU login required].

The university offers tips to making cmu.edu websites accessible for all users.

You can review our Digital Accessibility for Web Developers course [CMU login required], a resource you can use to make the web more accessible for those with disabilities.

The WAVE Accessibility Evaluation Tool (WAVE) is a helpful resource for checking your website's accessibility. Enter your page's URL on the site, and WAVE will evaluate your page and offer suggestions for improving its overall accessibility. NOTE: Feedback from the site are not specific to WCAG 2.0 AA and should be used only as suggestions for web accessbility improvement.

WCAG 2.0 is a set of global usability guidelines to make digital content accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. Following these guidelines will help make content accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities. These guidelines address important issues such as,

  • the importance of using descriptive alternative text in all aspects of web design
  • providing synchronized captions for all multimedia that contains audio (such as YouTube videos)
  • creating instructions that do not rely solely on images or sound for information (e.g., click the square box, click the link on the right-hand side of the page)

For more information about making your website and online materials accessible, see How to Meet WCAG 2.0. We encourage all Carnegie Mellon websites to adhere to the AA level of conformance.

The Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation is available to help CMU faculty and graduate students consider accessibility issues when designing courses, instructional activities and assessments. Email the Eberly Center to schedule a one-on-one consultation.

We encourage you to review the following resources for additional information about digital accessibility:

October 2020 Live Accessibility Webinars

Throughout the month of October, CMU's Digital Accessibility Committee is hosting a series of live webinars about digital accessibility. The webinars will be conducted by the digital accessibility professionals at Perkins Access and will range in topic from overviews to deep dives in content, design and development work.

These webinars are free and open to all CMU staff, faculty and students.

Creating Accessible Content

Primarily intended for authors, writers and content creators, but also recommended for designers, developers and digital marketing personnel.

To provide individuals who are responsible for writing / publishing digital content an overview of how people with disabilities search for, navigate and consume content on the web. The training will get into practical ways of writing and structuring content to be accessible to people with various types of disabilities.

Available 2 Hour Sessions
Thursday, October 1 at 10:00 A.M.
Wednesday, October 7 at 1:00 P.M.

Register for Creating Accessible Content

Accessible Design

Primarily intended for digital (web) designers and user experience practitioners, but also recommended for authors, writers and content creators.

To provide a basic understanding of ways to build accessibility into the design process / design artifacts before coding begins, which will result
in a more efficient development process and workflow.

Available 2 Hour Sessions
Thursday, October 1 at 1:00 P.M.
Tuesday, October 6 at 10:00 A.M.

Register for Accessible Design

Accessible Coding & Development, Parts 1 & 2

Primarily intended for front-end developers, but also recommended for back-end developers and QA testers.

To help developers understand the coding practices required in order to make digital experiences / web applications accessible to people with disabilities, particularly for those who use various types of assistive technologies to access information and communication technology.

Group 1: 2 Hour Sessions
Session 1: Wednesday, October 14 at 2:00 P.M.
Session 2: Thursday, October 15 at 10:00 A.M.

Group 2: 2 Hour Sessions
Session 1: Monday, October 19 at 2:00 P.M.
Session 2: Tuesday, October 20 at 2:00 P.M.

Register for Accessible Coding & Development

Word PDF Training

Primarily intended for authors, writers and content creators who have prior experience with Word.

To establish a basic understanding of what an accessible PDF is, how to create Word source documents that will generate accessible PDFs, and how users with disabilities interact with these types of documents (including a brief screen-reader demonstration). Also demonstrate how to use tools in Adobe Acrobat Pro to perform final remediation as well as testing and validation.

Available 2 Hour Sessions
Tuesday, October 13 at 1:00 P.M.
Wednesday, October 21 at 10:00 A.M.

Register for Word PDF Training

Word PDF Workshop (Add-On)

Primarily intended for authors, writers and content creators who use Word and PDF documents.

A hands-on workshop using the skills learned in Word training. Participants will create simple, accessible source documents that will export to accessible PDFs, and will use tools in Adobe Acrobat Pro to perform final remediation as well as testing and validation. This is a highly interactive training, thus the number of participants per workshop must be capped at five. Please be sure you are available at the time slot you sign up for.

This workshop is limited to 5 attendees per session.

2 Hour Sessions
Wednesday, October 14 at 1:00 P.M.
Thursday, October 22 at 10:00 A.M.

This workshop is full.

InDesign PDF Training

Primarily intended for authors, writers and content creators who have prior experience using InDesign.

To establish a basic understanding of what an accessible PDF is, how to create InDesign source documents that will generate accessible PDFs, and how users with disabilities interact with these types of documents (including a brief screen-reader demonstration). Also demonstrate how to use tools in Adobe Acrobat Pro to perform final remediation as well as testing and validation.

Available 2 Hour Sessions
Monday, October 19 at 10:00 A.M.
Wednesday, October 28 at 1:00 P.M.

Register for InDesign PDF Training

InDesign PDF Workshop (Add-On)

Primarily intended for authors, writers and content creators who use InDesign.

A hands-on workshop using the skills learned in InDesign training. Participants will create simple, accessible source documents that will export to accessible PDFs, and will use tools in Adobe Acrobat Pro to perform final remediation as well as testing and validation. This is a highly interactive training, thus the number of participants per workshop must be capped at five. Please be sure you are available at the time slot you sign up for.

This workshop is limited to 5 attendees per session.

2 Hour Sessions
Tuesday, October 20 at 10:00 A.M.
Thursday, October 29 at 1:00 P.M.

This workshop is full.

Multimedia Accessibility

Primarily intended for creators and editors of multimedia.

This training session will begin with a general overview of what accessible multimedia is and how it benefits every student. Instructors will then lead attendees through focused discussions and demonstrations about captions, transcripts and audio descriptions, and the tools used to create them; as well as methods for choosing media players and testing them for accessibility.

Available 2 Hour Session
Tuesday, October 13 at 10:00 A.M.

Register for Multimedia Accessibility