Accessibility Tips for Authors
Accessibility is an important consideration for the SIGCSE Technical Symposium. Interpreting figures/tables and navigating submission documents can present unique challenges for users of assistive technologies like screen readers and braille displays. Taking time to provide alternative text, document metadata tags, and verify navigability is important not only for users of these technologies, but for all reviewers and readers. Use of color in published documents also can lead to unintended barriers for a wide range of readers.
Ensuring that work submitted for review and ultimately published in the symposium proceedings is broadly accessible is a team effort, and we encourage authors to take steps to make their work available to all potential readers.
Quick Tips on Creating a Good Accessible Experience
- Provide alt text for visual information such as images, graphs, or tables.
- A meaningful alt text is descriptive and concise. Good alt text is about the length of a Twitter tweet or less, around 150 characters. This should be enough to convey the main concept of what the image is and what it’s trying to accomplish.
- The assistive technology will detect the visual object. Including “image of” in alt text will be rendered as “image, image of …”. It is redundant to hear that is an image twice. See SIGACCESS Tips for Describing Figures/Images with Alternative Text.
- Tables are good at presenting structured/tabular data in an accessible way. Keep tables simple. Nesting tables or merging cells can create a confusing experience for assistive technology users. Provide a caption on a table. Similar to alt text, table captions should be brief.
- Use built-in layout tools, rather than tables. If your document needs multiple columns use the columns features instead. The provided ACM templates should handle this for you.
- In Word, using the heading styles is a good practice as it will create the heading semantics needed by the assistive technology to learn the document outline. It also ensures your document is properly formatted using the ACM template styles. Use headings for structural design, not for visual effect. Proper heading structure will nest sections by going down one heading level. For example, level 3 headings are nested beneath heading level 2 sections.
- Encoding information in figures, tables, and text using only variations in color (i.e., only differences in hue and/or saturation) creates barriers to perceivability for most readers in different circumstances. Authors should consider multiple ways to encode information using both color and shape/texture/labels to indicate differences. See recommendations provided by ACM about publications using color.
Creating Accessible PDFs
There are many helpful guides available for how to create accessible documents/PDFs. We recommend the following resources:
- SIGACCESS Guides for Creating Accessible PDFs from MS Word
- SIGACCESS Guide for Creating Accessible PDFs using Acrobat (especially helpful for LaTeX users)
- WebAIM PDF Accessibility
- ACM Guide for Writing and Embedding Alternative Text in both MS Word and LaTeX
To ensure that you are using accessible colors in your manuscript, we recommend the following tools:
- ColorBrewer: http://colorbrewer2.org/
- ACE: The Accessible Colour Evaluator: http://daprlab.com/ace/ for designing WCAG 2.0 compliant palettes.
- Coblis: https://www.color-blindness.com/coblis-color-blindness-simulator/
- For further reading about creating accessible color figures, see https://towardsdatascience.com/two-simple-steps-to-create-colorblind-friendly-data-visualizations-2ed781a167ec
Authors of accepted manuscripts to the SIGCSE TS who seek additional support in preparing an accessible final submission are welcome to contact the conference universal design chairs at email@example.com. Please allow for sufficient time before any camera-ready deadlines if you need assistance.