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Accessibility and Disability Resource Centre


Disabled students may require support in accessing all sorts of materials for a range of disability-related reasons. To make it as straightforward as possible for everyone to access materials, these suggestions may help.

Key Support Areas

  • Providing the option of an electronic format is the most accessible as this means the student can manipulate the document to suit, and may find it easier to keep track of the document.
  • Materials should be available in advance, as many disabled students would find it hard to read quickly.
  • Braille has a minimum two week turn around. Many students with visual impairments prefer electronic formats for lengthy readings but if a handout needs to be referred to in a lecture, for example, then Braille is more useful.
  • The University house style is consistent with best practice in inclusive materials as it requires a sans serif font such as Tahoma or Arial, a minimum font size of 12, where the text is left side justified.


Specific considerations 

For a good overview this resource from JISC describing 6 Tips for Inclusive Teaching is a great starting point.

Microsoft have provided a guide on Accessibility in Office, Microsoft 365 and Office for Mac

Word documents

Microsoft Word is a widely used programme for the construction of documents used in teaching.  There are a number of built in tools which can be used to produce resources which are easier to navigate visually and by those using assistive technology. These resources from WebAIM provide a good overview as does the document 'Making word documents accessible' produced by Southampton University.


This guidance on making presentations accessible from the World Blind Union covers most of the main points to consider.  Also to remember – avoid putting text over any images as that reduces readability.

Guidance on scanned texts, accessibility and accessible PDFs

If a student or applicant is using assistive technology, such as text-to-speech software (e.g. ClaroRead, TextHelp, Read & Write) or screen-reading software such as ZoomText then it may be possible for the software to read PDF documents. However, some screen-reading software such as JAWS may be unable to read from a pdf containing a simple scanned image of text. The pdf needs instead to include the words themselves.

This accessible format can be achieved by converting the scanned text to a Word document. If you wish to convert the PDF document into Microsoft Word using either Adobe Acrobat DC or Adobe Acrobat XI. The instructions are at

If Adobe Acrobat is not available and you do not have a word-processed document containing the text you will need to type the text into MS Word or similar, making sure you use paragraphs and standard heading styles.

General guidance on producing accessible pdfs can be found at

There is also excellent guidance on the Birkbeck for All webpages

If in doubt, please contact your college or departmental IT Officer, or the UIS Service Desk , 01223 (7)62999.

Training available

The ADRC offers a hands on course on how to produce accessible materials which will show you basic principles and processes for creating accessible documents in Microsoft Word and Powerpoint and PDFs:

Braille Conversion

The ADRC does not have the facilities to convert documents into Braille but there are external companies that can provide this service. If you need any further information please contact the ADRC on


University Library

Cambridge University Libraries are committed to providing equal access to their services and facilities for all users in all libraries. The UL website has a dedicated section with information for disabled library users.

Accessibility Service

This new service is provided by Patrick Dowson (Accessibility Services Manager) and Lindsay Jones (Accessibility Services Coordinator). The service works across the Cambridge library network to ensure that library users have equal access to services and resources regardless of their accessibility needs. For further information please visit the UL Accessibility Service website