Accessibility guide cover 2nd edition

Accessible document formats


If you are sending out emails including newsletters, they should be in accessible HTML format with the option of viewing in plain text:

  • Provide the original Word document as well as the PDF.
  • Include the document in the original email if the document is short.
  • Provide a web link at the end of the text.
  • Provide captioned and audio described video or New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) video.
  • Do not use a PDF file as the only communications tool.


Information on the web should follow the New Zealand Government Web Standards [9], which includes:

  • Conformance to WCAG 2.1 (the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines [10]) at Level AA.
  • Correctly marked-up HTML (HyperText Markup Language).
  • Tagged/structured PDFs that are optimised for accessibility, including alt text on images and tagged tables.
  • The PDF document properties should include title, an author such as the organisation, the language used, and show document title as the “window options”. PDFs are not to be relied on as an accessible version.
  • PDFs created from scanned content should not be used as the only communications tool. They cannot be read by screen readers and can be inaccessible to people with other impairments.
  • Alternate formats which include audio, New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL), Easy Read, Braille, and large print.

Social media

The following list of tips about accessible social media is reproduced from the Australian Network on Disability [11].


  • If images contain text, include that text in your post and in the alternative text.
  • Ensure enough contrast between your text and background.
  • Provide alternative text for informative images.
  • Use emojis and emoticons sparingly.
  • Caption informative images where possible.


  • Provide captions for your videos. Closed captions are preferred.
  • Provide audio descriptions for your videos.
  • Picture in picture using NZSL.
  • Provide transcripts for your videos, preferably in HTML.


  • Avoid jargon, acronyms and idioms.
  • Use CamelCase for hashtags.
  • Include hashtags or mentions at the end of your post.
  • Create short links or remove redundant links.
  • Tell users when linking to an image, video, document or audio file.
  • Thread related Twitter posts on the same topic.


Slideshows are a powerful communication tool that are often inaccessible to people who are blind or vision-impaired. Fortunately, there are ways you can create slideshows that are accessible to a wider audience.

To ensure presentations are accessible, consider the:

  • visual presentation (slideshow, PowerPoint, videos, audio files)
  • handouts
  • verbal presentation.

Design of presentations

  • Use a simple, uncluttered design template.
  • Use the pre-defined text boxes, title boxes, and image boxes already in the templates, rather than creating your own. Adding new page elements can reduce the ability of adaptive software to read the information in the right order or to read it at all.
  • Use sans serif fonts such as Arial, Verdana, or APHont (a font developed specifically for low-vision readers), in minimum 24-point.
  • Be mindful of colour contrast issues. Light text on a dark background is best (eg yellow on black, white on dark blue, or white on black).
  • Do not convey information with colour alone, as some individuals may be colour-blind.
  • Limit the number of bullet points and total quantity of text per slide. We recommend 5 words per bullet and no more than 5 to 7 bullets per slide. If your audience is largely made up of people with learning disabilities use 2 to 3 bullets per slide.
  • If using Microsoft PowerPoint, consider incorporating audible slide transitions that notify audience members that you are moving to a new slide. iWork Keynote does not offer audio transitions, so use some verbal indication, such as saying “next slide”.

Features of presentations

  • Set presentation to “Normal” view, open the Slide Show menu and select Slide Transition. A Slide Transition pane will appear on the right side of the screen.
  • In the Modify transition section, select Sound. Choose a sound from the select box. “Click”, “whoosh”, “chime”, or “camera” are good choices. Some of the others might become annoying to the audience.
  • Disable automatic slide transitions and ensure slides change “on click”. This allows audience members who want to review your slides to control the speed with which slides change.
  • Minimise the number of transitions or animations used in your presentation. These features can limit the functionality of adaptive technology.
  • If using Microsoft PowerPoint (version 2010 or later), once you have completed your slideshow use the “Document Accessibility Checker” to check for accessibility issues. This tool can scan the slideshow for elements that are missing descriptive text, elements that have no assigned order for adaptive technologies, slides that have no assigned titles, and other issues.

Public service advertisements on TV and online

If you are communicating to New Zealanders through a video on television or online, you should:

  • Have the video captioned so that Deaf and hard of hearing people can understand what is being said and know about any other important sounds, such as a phone ringing off screen.
  • Look at using picture-in-picture for New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL).
  • Ensure that information presented visually (such as a phone number) is also said out loud so that the blind and vision impaired community don’t miss out on important information.
  • Look into having the video audio described so that blind and vision impaired people can understand information that is being communicated visually.

The independent charitable trust, Able, provides all the captioning and audio description on free-to-air television in New Zealand. Able can caption your videos for a fee.

If you are procuring an advertisement, you could make captioning and picture audio description a necessary deliverable of the contract.

For more information on captioning and audio description please see the next section on alternate formats.

Accessibility guide cover 2nd edition
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