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Why do we need to make our content accessible?

The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry(ESF) promotes the inclusion of individuals with disabilities as part of our commitment to creating a diverse, inclusive community. As such, it is ESF's policy to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

To comply with the ADA, documents posted online, including, but not limited to, PDF files, Microsoft Word documents, Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, and online flipbooks, must be screenreader friendly. Screen reader software is a form of assistive technology that reads a screen's display aloud to the user. Therefore, the document must have an established reading order, as well as visual elements that are tagged with alternative text descriptions. This will allow the screenreader and other assistive technology to comprehensively and accurately communicate the information to the reader.

All multimedia resources available to the general public must be captioned. Captioned media displays the audio content of a program as text on-screen and synchronized with the dialogue of the speaker, and includes additional auditory information such as sound effects. This provides accessibility for individuals who are deaf, deafened, or hard-of-hearing, while also benefiting individuals with diverse learning abilities and whose primary language is not English.

Contrast and color use are vital to accessibility. There must be sufficient contrast between text color and background color on webpages, documents, text on images, icons, and buttons. High contrast and wise color choices will help users perceive the content, including those with visual disabilities.

This webpage provides standards for all ESF communications pieces that are posted online. It also lists resources and recommendations to help students, faculty members, and staff members better understand their options for posting accessible documents online.

First, ask these questions to help you decide which content format is best:
  1. Does this content truly need to be on the web?

    1. If it needs to be online, does it need to be on the ESF public website?

  2. Would the content function well as a webpage?

    1. If yes, make it a web page rather than a standalone document. Contact web@esf.edu if you need assistance.

    2. The U.S. Department of Justice recommends that when posting documents on the website, always provide them in HTML or a text-based format (even if you are also providing them in another format, such as Portable Document Format (PDF)).

  3. Is the document currently accessible?

  4. Is some other organization or agency hosting a copy of this document to which you could link, instead of recreating all the work yourself?

  5. Can the document be converted into a more accessible format?

  6. Can the document be made accessible without taking a prohibitive amount of work?

    1. Can you make it accessible yourself?

    2. Are you willing to pay to make it accessible?

How do I make my document accessible?

Step 1. Follow the guidance for your intended content format:

Microsoft Word

Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Power Point

Microsoft Publisher

Adobe InDesign

Video File

Audio File

OR hire a SUNY-Approved provider to make your content accessible:



Step 2. Check the color and contrast of your content to ensure it passes Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) AA:


Contrast Analyser

Need accessibility training? Reference?

T P G i r  logo

Students, faculty, and staff at SUNY campuses have free access to Deque University's training and on-demand reference materials for every level and every area of expertise in digital accessibility.Follow this link for more information and to enroll.

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LinkedIn Learning offers thousands of self-paced courses, with many dedicated to creating accessible content.

Log into your Syracuse University LinkedIn Learning account at https://linkedinlearning.syr.edu/. Use your SU email address (ESFiD@syr.edu) to log in. Search for the courses you need using terms like Creating Accessible Documents and InDesign Accessibility.


Q:Do I have to make all documents posted to the website ADA compliant, including Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Publisher, Excel files, and PDFs?

A: Yes.

Q: Do attachments to emails have to be made accessible?

A: Yes. Both your email messages sent using your @esf.edu email account, and all their attachments must be accessible. They are considered official College documents. Once you send an email, you lose control of who reads it. So even if the intended recipient isn't someone who requires assistive technology, you must ensure that your email is accessible.

Q: How do I convey the information in my document in the fastest, simplest, most cost-effective way possible?

A: Make it a web page rather than a standalone document. Contact web@esf.edu if you need assistance.

Accessibility Policies and Resources

Policies and Standards
Classroom Accessibility
Digital Content Accessibility
Instructional Content Accessibility
Audio/Video Content Accessibility
Social Media Accessibility
  • Adobe Acrobat Pro - (NOT Adobe Acrobat Reader). Used to edit PDFs for accessibility. Contact the ESF Business Office to acquire a license.
  • CommonLook PDF Validator - free Adobe Acrobat plug-in for checking accessibility compliance. More accurate than Acrobat's built-in checker.
  • Screen reader software - Accessibility screen reader software such as JAWS is useful for testing document accessibility. Contact CNS to acquire a license.
Library Accessibility
Procurement Accessibility
Web Accessibility
EIT Accessibility Communications Archive

Accessibility Policies:

ESF Title IX Officer

Rebecca Hoda-Kearse
Title IX / Affirmative Action Officer
She/Her/Hers Pronouns
Baker Lab, Suite 445
Phone: 315-565-3012
Email: rahodake@esf.edu

EIT Digital Content Accessibility Officer

Brandon Murphy
Coordinator, Teaching and Learning Center

EIT Classroom Accessibility Officer

Christopher Baycura
Manager, ITS Media
Media Producer/Production Manager

EIT Library Accessibility Officer

Matt Smith
Director of College Libraries

EIT Procurement Accessibility Officer

Lisa Campagna
Associate Director of Business Affairs

Accessibility Questions?

If you have accessibility-related questions or issues, please send them to Accessibility@esf.edu