Pressbooks - Accessibility & Usability Information

This document summarizes the accessibility and usability barriers identified during testing as well as recommendations for authors to make their Pressbooks content more accessible. This document also informs users where to get assistance with Pressbooks.

Pressbooks is a Canvas learning technology integration that allows users to publish textbook and other content as well as include quizzes. For more Pressbooks information and resources see our Pressbooks knowledgebase.

How students can get help

Student accessibility & usability barriers 

Include Alternate Text 

Pressbooks doesn’t prompt authors to include alternative text when they are entering images and graphics. When creating Pressbook content, be sure to add alternative text for every image or graphic. This will allow users who are blind or have low vision to use a screen reader to read the description of the image and its relationship to the content. 

Contrast errors

Image descriptions throughout the publication are in italics which is harder for users to read. It also fails color contrast accessibility as the light blue text is too low contrast compared to the white background of the page. This can be a problem for users who are low vision or are colorblind. Instead of using the image descriptions text, consider using regular paragraph text and identifying images by a figure number in the text description, alt text, and heading of the image. 

Use normal paragraph text for any text that looks too light to your eye as a Pressbooks content author.

Make sure videos have captions & audio have transcripts

Pressbooks doesn’t prompt authors to include captions when video media is embedded in the content. Conversely, Pressbooks also doesn’t prompt users to provide transcripts when audio media is embedded.

When embedding audio/video in Pressbooks content, make sure to include captions for video and transcripts for audio content, so users who are deaf or hard of hearing can have equal access to your content.

For more information on how to add captions for videos, and transcript see Captioning transcripts, and audio descriptions - Getting Started (UW-Madison)

Pressbooks buttons may be missing an accessible label

Some Pressbooks reader buttons on the viewer interface may be missing accessible labels for screen reader users. This can impact users who are blind or have low vision and are navigating textbook content in Pressbooks via a screen reader. 

Screen reader users may not be able to annotate in Pressbooks or in a Canvas embedded document if this happens. Be sure to have your textbook accessibility tested quickly by the Center for User Experience (for free) to ensure textbook functionality and content is screen readable. 

Pressbooks embed slideshow may not load 

The Pressbooks slideshow in Canvas may not load very well especially on low broadband internet connections. As a result the Pressbooks embedded slideshow may not be the most accessible format for course content from a universal design perspective. This may be especially true during periods while students are away from campus.