Accessibility Tip of the Week: Creating Accessible Content

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This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about creating accessible content. Please contact Robert with any accessibility questions.

As a teacher in the Olympia School District, you will have heard a lot about accessibility. Here is a summary of what accessibility is, how it pertains to you, and how you can ensure greater access for everyone in our community!

What is accessibility?

Accessibility means creating digital content that can be understood by our entire community, including those with visual, auditory, cognitive, or motor disabilities. In general, this means we want to create content that works with assistive technology, such as screen readers or screen magnifiers.

What does this mean for OSD staff?

Put simply, all content posted to the web, be it SchoolMessenger or Schoology, must be accessible. While this may initially sound daunting, the workflow for creating accessible content is relatively straightforward.

Creating Accessible Content

There are many aspects to creating accessible content, but there are two elements that come into play most frequently:


True headings consist of section titles, which enable users of assistive technology, such as screen readers, to skim through a document. While section titles may be created visually using bolding, larger font sizes or underlining, these do not provide a programmatic accompaniment to the text.

In most software, creating a true heading is as simple as highlighting a piece of text and selecting the appropriate heading style. Guides for each piece of software can be found on the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page.

Alternative Text

A screen reader operates by synthesizing text into speech. When it encounters an image, it requires a description of the image to read to the user. This description is called alternative text. Good alternative text describes both the content and the function of an image, ensuring the meaning of the image is conveyed to all users.

Alternative text can easily be added in most  software programs – steps can be found on the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page.

Publishing Content

Once content includes true headings and alternative text, the author should consider how they intend to publish their content. There are two options, either posting the content directly to a page, or including the document as an attached PDF.

On-page content

Content published directly onto a webpage, either in Schoology or on a SchoolMessenger teacher page, is natively quite accessible. Content written in Google Docs can easily be copied onto one of these platforms. Content from Microsoft Word will require the images to be added back in and alternative text to be added.

Attached PDFs

If an attachment is preferred, the document should be saved as a PDF and then posted to the web. Accessible PDFs can be created using either Word or Google Docs. Word users can simply go to File > Save As > and change their file format to PDF. Google Docs users will need to use Grackle to create an accessible PDF. Detailed steps for both software suites can be found in the blog post Exporting to PDF, or on the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page.


For video content to be accessible, all meaningful audio must be captioned. By utilizing YouTube’s speech recognition software, staff are able to create captioned video content for our community.

Videos should be uploaded to YouTube, and then the automatic captions should be edited for accuracy, punctuation and timing. More information on increasing the accuracy of automatically generated captions can be found in this captioning guide.


Creating accessible documents not only ensures more of our community can enjoy our content, but it also often results in efficiency increases. If you have questions about creating accessible content, please feel free to reach out to Robert Hardy, the district’s website accessibility specialist.

New Technology Family Resource Center webpage

Shallow view of Mac laptop

A new Technology Family Resource Center webpage has been added to the district website to help families find information about technology tools in one location.

Visit the new webpage to learn how to get Technology Helpdesk support, schedule a time to pick up a student Chromebook, access the student portal, learn about Schoology (learning management system) Parent Access, sign in to Skyward Family Access, use Remind, connect to the OSD Zoom account, and more.

Be sure to check back frequently for new updates to the page.

Visit the Technology Family Resource Center on the OSD website

Return to Work Safety Plan 3.0 posted on staff Intranet

pexels-karolina-grabowska-4197564Read the latest version of the OSD COVID-19 Pandemic Return to Work Safety Plan 3.0. The plan is posted on the staff intranet, so be sure to sign into Google to access the file, which is located under Departments, Safety & Risk Management.

The latest version of the plan contains updated information, including COVID-19 response flow charts recently released by Thurston County Public Health and Social Services.

Please remember to follow all safety and health protocols outlined in the plan.

First day of school is September 9; webpage launched to help new OSD families

pexels-pixabay-221164Don’t forget the official first day of school is Wednesday, September 9!

If you connect with a family new to the district, be sure to share about a new District Resources for New Families webpage on the OSD website. Links to resources are compiled on this page to help new families find answers to many common questions about registration, transportation, meals, Skyward Family Access, McKinney-Vento supports, the school year calendar, and more.

There are still virtual seats left for this Friday’s Social Media Workshop

Graphic titled Olympia School District So

There are still openings for staff interested in registering for the OSD Social Media Workshop this Friday, September 4. Staff may use Tech PD for this training opportunity.

OSD Social Media Workshop

Is your school officially represented on social media? If not, let’s fix that!

In the ever-changing world of social media, it can be daunting when considering what social media platforms to choose to best reach your families. Don’t be dismayed, it’s really quite simple and unquestionably worth your time and effort.

Give us an hour of your time and come sit down as we delve into the following “Social Media Tips” when managing a school or district-related social media account:

  • Why do we need to promote our school? We’re doing fine!
  • Getting approval from your Administrator
  • How to select the social media platform to best reach your audience
  • Setting up your accounts (using district email)
  • Checking student permissions (when publishing students names/photos)
  • How to best promote your new social media account
  • Frequency of posting: Creating a social media calendar
  • Creating engagement: Like, Follow and Share
  • How to produce consistent, easily digestible content
  • Finding your “voice” and “tone”

Our hope is that by the time this workshop wraps up you will feel much more comfortable opening up a social media account that represents your school community. This includes accounts for a school, athletic team, club, program or classroom. You will be amazed at the number of families you reach that were not previously reached through your school website (or teacher page), robocalls, newsletters, email and flyers.

With a consistent posting schedule, your engagement will soar. You will have a brand new way to communicate with students, families and our community which prioritizes content pushed out through social media. There are so many great stories to tell throughout our district, don’t be afraid of using this unique outlet to bring yours to the forefront!

The workshop is listed in PDEnroller. Here are the details with all the necessary Zoom information included:

Please sign up for this workshop in PDEnroller prior to its start so everything is properly set up for each user. Should you need additional information, contact Conor Schober at

Please share back-to-school photos with Communications department


The first day of school this year and the days leading up to the first day are going to be unlike any we have experienced. That doesn’t mean that we can’t share all the smiles, special moments and laughter that takes place with our families and community. In fact, if anything, it’s more important than ever to show our families just how excited we are to reconnect with all our students.

Normally our Communications Department would be out in schools taking photos and video of these moments. Since that can’t happen this year we are asking our staff to share any special moments you capture with us so we can share them with our community. We need your help!

We have created a Google Drive folder and shared it with all OSD staff. If you have any special moments that you capture via photo please take a second and upload them to this folder so we can push them out on District Social Media, the OSD website and upcoming newsletters.

Please include any fun moments you have prepping for the first day of school, such as preparing and/or handing out supply distribution bags, or zooming with other staff members. It’s all great!

If your photos feature students, please check permissions in Skyward prior to uploading to the Google Drive folder. Students simply need to be marked “yes” for “district/school” use in Skyward. Should you have any questions regarding how to check student permissions please contact the front office staff of your school, they will be able to assist.

Thank you all for your help, we can’t wait to see what you have to share!

Interested in working toward your National Board certification this year?

National Board Candidate Information Sessions info including times and dates listed in accompanying article

Click image to enlarge flyer

Hello teachers and counselors!

Are you considering working toward your National Board certification this school year? Unsure of where to start or what it will look like during remote learning? To learn more, please register to join one of two September webinars scheduled at 4 p.m. on September 10 and 29 on Zoom. The webinars are hosted by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (View OSPI flyer)

Do you need to renew your certification? Starting this candidate cycle, National Board will be implementing a new, five-year Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process. If you are interested in attending WEA’s MOC Jump Start, please preregister here.

Looking for local National Board support throughout the school year? Usually, we facilitate a National Board cohort in Olympia but we know this upcoming school year is going to be unique. We aren’t sure what our National Board cohort will look like, but we hope to have enough interest to offer an opportunity for both new and renewal National Board candidates to come together to deepen their understanding of their own teaching with the guidance of trained facilitators. Please let one of us know asap if you are interested!

Teresa Bond,
Stacy Brown,
Anita Roedell,
Erica Kinsel,