Tech Tuesdays

Take the No Mouse Challenge

I recently subscribed to Minnesota IT Services’ Digital Accessibility newsletter and last month I did the “no mouse challenge.” The idea is that you try to do your job for 15 minutes on your computer without using a mouse. You can print out a Keyboard Shortcuts Quick Card (PDF) to help you. I searched for a newspaper article in my library’s discovery system, booked a study room, and looked up the library’s weekend hours without using a mouse.

black computer mouse on white table
Black Computer Mouse on Table” by dejankrsmanovic is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

All functionality on a website should be available without the use of a mouse.

Keyboard Compatibility video by WC3’s Web Accessibility Initiative

This brief video above explains why keyboard compatibility is “essential for people with disabilities and useful for all.” The WC3 Keyboard Compatibility webpage explains that a variety of people “depend on this feature:

  • People with physical disabilities who cannot use the mouse.
  • People who are blind, and cannot see the mouse pointer on the screen.
  • People with chronic conditions, such as repetitive stress injuries (RSI), who should limit or avoid use of a mouse.”

Learn more about keyboard accessibility on WebAIM.

Visit Minnesota IT Services Digital Accessibility website for accessibility resources and to sign up for their monthly Digital Accessibility newsletter.

Take the “no mouse challenge” and share what you learn about your library’s website or your LibGuide. Are there improvements you can make based on what you experience?

Wildcard Wednesdays

Digital Accessibility: Quick Tips

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many institutions online. Although colleges are now reopening, demand for online materials and resources remains. When creating digital materials, librarians must keep access considerations in mind. Digital accessibility is a complex subject, but here are a few tips to start improving access to your materials.


Have you wondered what all those different sizes and colors in the Styles panel of Microsoft Word mean? Headings give your document a hierarchical structure. Breaking text up makes it easier to read and understand, and headings also allow screen reader users to navigate between sections.

Learn to create headings in Word and create headings in Google Docs. If you don’t like Word’s default look, you can customize headings once the style has been applied.

Alt Text and Image Descriptions

Alt text provides a description of an image or graphic for screen reader users, as well as people with poor internet connections who may have trouble loading pictures.

Alt text should be applied whenever an image is not purely decorative. If alt text is not supported, include an image description below the image.

For more details, read a guide to alt text and learn how to add alt text in Office.

Descriptive Links

Screen reader users can navigate directly to links, meaning that link text should make sense without additional context. Link text like “Library catalog” rather than “Click here” ensures users are clear on the link’s destination.


Video is becoming a common format for sharing information, and captions benefit Deaf people as well as other users who may not be able to or want to enable audio. Some video editors include captioning tools, but if yours does not, here are some free captioning tools available.

Color Contrast

Color can make your materials stand out, but it shouldn’t sacrifice accessibility. Use contrast checkers to ensure any text on a colored background is readable.

Accessible tagged PDFs

PDFs are a popular file format, but they’re not always accessible. To create an accessible PDF, save the document’s structure and tags during the export process. (Make sure you’re converting an accessible document.) If you’re working with an existing PDF, you can use Adobe Acrobat to improve accessibility.

Accessibility Checker

This may seem overwhelming, but there are tools that can help. Microsoft Office programs have an accessibility checker, which can spot some (but not all) issues.

These tips only scratch the surface, and they aren’t intended as legal advice, but hopefully they can start you thinking about how you can make your digital resources better for everyone.

Are your libguides, tutorials, and online handouts accessible? What tools and resources are you using to monitor or improve accessibility?