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eCommons: Cornell's Digital Repository

Information and user support for eCommons, Cornell's Digital Repository.

Web accessibility help for eCommons submitters

All newly submitted or updated text and audio/visual content (A/V) is required to be accessible. In support of Cornell’s Web Accessibility Policy, we strongly encourage you to consider accessibility in your workflow.

Some general good practices for web accessible documents include:

  • Specifying the title and language of the document
  • Using proper headings, structure or tags (terminology varies by software), and not using formatting (e.g. font size and color) to convey document organization and structure
  • Including alternate text for embedded images
  • Using text for textual content, not images of text
  • Creating properly formatted lists and tables (e.g. using Word's tools to create lists and tables, rather than using tabs and spaces to position content)
  • Selecting color combinations with sufficient contrast
  • Not using color to convey meaning.

In addition to the information below, you may find helpful information on IT@Cornell's accessibility web pages, which include information on outsourcing PDF remediation (requires Cornell log in).

Microsoft Office documents

If MS Word is where you start creating the documents you intend to upload to eCommons, make sure the end result is accessible by using Word's built-in Check Accessibility tool, available on the Review tab.

For more information on creating accessible Word documents, please see:

For information on creating accessible PowerPoint and Excel documents, we recommend:

PDF documents

Whenever possible, start with the source document (e.g. Word or other program), rather than starting your accessibility work with the PDF. WebAIM provides a very good overview of PDF Accessibility. WebAIM also has specific instructions for preserving accessibility features when converting Word documents to PDF. Many additional resources are available from IT@Cornell.

If you have access to it, use Adobe Acrobat Pro to run a Full Accessibility check on your document, before you upload it to eCommons. Make sure it passes without errors. Some items require human inspection, in addition to using Acrobat's checker.

If you do not have access to Acrobat Pro, a free option for checking accessibility is PAVE - Validate and Fix PDF Accessibility (maximum file size: 5MB).

When you do not have access to the original source document, consider using Equidox, a web browser-based PDF remediation tool licensed for use at Cornell. We regret that the eCommons team cannot provide support for Equidox. If you have trouble accessing the tool, or any other problems with it, please contact the web accessibility group.

Finally, you can outsource remediation to Cornell's preferred vendor for PDF remediation (Onix).

Google docs

See Google's guidance, Make your document or presentation more accessible. Use a browser plug-in such as WAVE to check the accessibility of your Google documents.

Audio and video recordings

If you upload audio or video recordings that include spoken language to eCommons, they must be captioned.

If you are not creating captions as part of your production process, eCommons administrators can create machine-generated captions using Cornell's video platform (Kaltura), and embed a player for the captioned recording on the item page. Note that the resulting captions are quite variable in quality, and it may be necessary for you to correct the caption file, which we will provide to you upon request. More help on streaming and captioning is available.

Please notify us of items requiring captioning.

Plain Text files

See the W3C's guidance, Plain Text Techniques for WCAG 2.0.

Other file formats and software

Most software vendors provide online guidance for their products, including how to create web accessible files.


eCommons supports specialized metadata related to web accessibility, which is available to submitters via the online submission interface and batch processes. If you have questions about adding accessibility metadata to your submission(s) or to previously submitted content, please contact the eCommons administrators.