How to make your research accessible - Author Services

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How to make your research accessible

A step-by-step guide

At Taylor & Francis, we’re committed to accessibility and we want to help you make your research accessible too.

Our thorough submission and production process means that many factors affecting accessibility are taken care of by Taylor & Francis, but there are actions you can take to help make your research accessible.

Here is our step-by-step guide to help you make your research accessible.

Why is accessibility important?

There are many reasons why you should make sure your research is accessible to as many people as possible.

Structure

Why is structuring your article important for accessibility?

Structuring your research paper in a logical way can help people with disabilities or users of assistive technology navigate the content and find the information they’re looking for quickly and easily.

Best practices for structuring your article

Headings and subheadings are key for organizing the structure of your research paper. Headings should:

  • Convey meaning and structure

  • Provide an outline of the content

  • Group related content and paragraphs

  • Provide a hierarchy of the content

Ordering headings and subheadings

Text cannot simply be made bold or a larger font size for it to be recognized as a heading. The heading style should be used for headings and subheadings.

Headings should be ordered according to a hierarchy: heading level 1 (H1), heading level 2 (H2), heading level 3 (H3), and so on. Heading levels may be repeated but you should not skip levels.

How to use heading styles correctly for accessibility.

Formatting

Font

  • Use an accessible font style, such as Arial, Open Sans or Calibri.

  • Avoid stylized typefaces.

Font size

  • A minimum size of 16 point is recommended for people with visual disability.

    Please note: some font sizes appear larger than others at the same point size.

Writing

  • Avoid writing words in capital letters. Words which are fully capitalized may be understood as an acronym by screen readers.

  • Avoid using underlines where you can.

  • Use plain language where possible.

    Style tags

    • Use bold and italics only where necessary, as style tags cannot always be recognized by screen readers.

      Accessibility checkers

      Accessibility checkers can help verify your content against accessibility rules, and identify any potential issues for improvement.

      There are many different accessibility checkers on the market, including Microsoft’s Accessibility Checker and the Acrobat Pro Accessibility Check feature in PDFs.

      Vector illustration of a character in grey, sat crossed legged, on an open laptop with a WiFi symbol above it.

      Alternative text

      What is alternative (alt) text and why is it important?

      Alt text is a short piece of text accompanying an image or figure to convey to readers the nature or contents of the image. It is typically used by assistive technology to make the object accessible to people who have a visual disability and cannot read or see it.

      Alt text will also be displayed in place of an image, if the image file cannot be loaded.

      Alt text can also provide better image context/descriptions to search engine crawlers, helping them to index an image properly and improve the discoverability of your research.

      Alt text is a key principle of accessible publishing.

      Benefits of providing alt text

      • Inclusivity: providing the same opportunities to everyone.

      • Future-proofing your content.

      • Helping to raise awareness of the importance of accessibility.

      • Expands your audience reach and potential readership and engagement.

      • Helping to make a impact to real people in the world.

      • Discoverability: providing alt text can support search engine optimization for your academic article.

      Example of alt text

      Man writing in an open notebook at his desk with his laptop open in front of him.

      • Good alt text: Man in a blue and white checkered shirt, writing in an open notebook at his desk with his laptop open in front of him.

      • Bad alt text: Man writing.

      How do I write alt text?

      Alt text is not the same as a caption, which typically provides information that is not already in the visual element itself. Alt text should be:

      • Concise

      • Targeted

      • Unique

      • Clear

      • Simple

      • Consistent

      • Singular

      • Complete

      An author’s guide to writing alt text

      We have created a detailed guide to writing alt text, specifically for research authors. The guide contains further information, such as more examples of good alt text, and how to submit alt text with your article.

      Vector illustration of 4 puzzle pieces, three are shades of blue, one is pink.

      Taylor & Francis: alt text awareness

      At Taylor & Francis, we’re committed to making sure all our products, platforms and websites are accessible to as wide an audience as possible. Alternative text was introduced into our eBook workflows in 2020 and a growing list of our journals are running alternative text trials.

      Color

      Color is important for accessibility because it can affect the way someone receives information visually. Choosing which colors to use in the images, figures, and tables in your research article needs careful consideration.

          Best practices in using color for accessibility

          • Provide enough contrast between your text and the background.

          • Don’t rely on color alone to convey your message to your audience.

          • Ensure any links are a different color to the main body of your text.

          Color contrast requirements

          The minimum contrast value required to adhere to the basic standard of acceptable accessibility is 3.00. The contrast between the text and the background needs to be greater than, or equal to 4:5:1.

          How to use color and color contrasts correctly for accessibility.

          Multimedia

          Multimedia content associated with your research article also needs to be made accessible. The video below shows how Taylor & Francis Online are making the research we publish, accessible to as many people as possible.

          Types of multimedia

          Vector illustration of a character wearing blue, holding a laptop in one hand, and other hand in their pocket.
          • Audio content, such as podcasts

          • Video content

          • Presentations

          • Animations, such as GIFs

          Visual descriptions

          Descriptions of visual information, sometimes called audio description, video descriptions, or described video, depending on the different media.

          Visual descriptions provide people with visual disabilities the information they need to understand the information.

          Transcripts

          Transcripts are text versions of the speech and non-speech audio information.

          Descriptive transcripts include text descriptions of visual content, too.

          Transcripts can assist people with both audio and visual disability.

          Captions

          Also known as subtitles or closed captions, captions should be provided for video content.

          Captions are text versions of the speech and non-speech audio information. Providing captions allows people who are hard of hearing to access the content.

          Keyboard compatibility

          Users must be able to navigate easily between headings, links, buttons and other controls by using the Tab key and other keystrokes. Here, we can think about traditional keyboards, but also modified keyboards and other hardware that mimics the functionality of a keyboard.

          Who depends on this feature?

          • People who cannot use a mouse

          • People who cannot see the mouse pointer on the screen

          • People with chronic conditions and should limit or avoid the use of a mouse

          A keyboard with someone typing. Text overlay reads "Every piece of content on Taylor & Francis Online can be navigated using just a keyboard for people who use assistive technology".

          How to make your article keyboard compatible

          • Make sure your content is organized and structured

          • Use headings correctly throughout your research paper

          • Links are clearly inputted into the text

          Ignore your mouse and test out the keyboard compatibility of your research article by using the keys on your keyboard solely.

          Need further help with writing your article?

          Be prepared, speed up your submission, and make sure nothing is forgotten by understanding a journal’s individual requirements.