Over the past year or so, GOALS has been developing a series of cheatsheets to help faculty, staff, and other content creators produce more accessible content. Response to these sheets has been extremely positive and we plan to continually update these resources as new techniques and technologies become available. We have recently reorganized our main cheatsheet page by type of technology (instead of date published) and have just created a new cheatsheet for Acrobat XI.
As the popularity of these resources continues to grow, we wanted to take a minute to cover how we believe these resources should (and should not) be used.
During my first year of college I had a professor who took great pride in his difficult tests. However, he did allow one single-sided sheet of handwritten notes. I remember spending a tremendous amount of time copying text in the tiniest size I could manage until I was confident the sheet contained every bit of possible information. I’m sure most of you can guess the outcome—I spent most of my time looking up every answer and struggled to finish the test before time ran out. During the next test I filled the sheet with about a third as much information, things like unfamiliar names and specific dates. I trusted in my familiarity with the concepts and used the notes to help recall details, and did much better.
While developing the GOALS cheatsheets we have the same rule—each resource must fit on a single printed page. We almost always have to cut information that we would like to include, but we feel this design decision is part of what makes these resources helpful. They may not provide all the information (the Adobe guide to Acrobat XI accessibility is a 90+ page PDF), but they provide essential information that people are likely to forget or overlook.
Just as a real life cheatsheet won’t get you a good grade on a topic you have never studied, our accessibility cheatsheets will probably not provide enough information for users who are completely unfamiliar with accessibility (even though we know they are sometimes used this way). We have found that they are very useful as handouts at a face-to-face training or as downloadable resources on a support page with additional tutorials. Hopefully they can fill a similar role at your institution.