Adding Accessibility to Student Feedback

Rob Power


Rob Power, EdD


Assistant Professor of Education, Cape Breton University


Author’s Note

This chapter was originally published as a blog post on the Power Learning Solutions blog (16 February 2022).


I recently posted a video about how I use the mail merge features of Microsoft Excel and Word to automate my feedback to students about common APA paper formatting issues. I routinely include a checklist of common APA formatting issues when providing feedback on student paper submissions, checking off the items that each student seems to be struggling with.

Over the past few terms, I have started embedding issues into my checklist related to Digital Accessibility concerns noted in students’ papers and projects. Whether or not these issues are included in students’ grades, it is important to highlight them to help promote awareness (and hopefully inspire a more Digital Accessibility-conscious practice mindset). I am constantly tweaking my checklist, and recent conversations with a colleague and with some of my students inspired me to do a broader-scale overhaul. In my latest version, I have separated out and expanded the Digital Accessibility comments. I also decided to post two versions of the updated checklist here for anyone who wants to integrate them into their feedback routine.
One version is my full checklist, which include common APA version 7 formatting comments as well as Digital Accessibility issues. The second version, which might be useful for assignments and projects other than APA format student papers, includes just the Digital Accessibility issues. Both are available in Word and PDF format, and the Word versions are available with and without the embedded Excel mail merge fields (I have also included an Excel template with the merge fields).

The APA Formatting Checklist covers:

  • Basic APA v 7 paper formatting.
  • General writing style issues for APA v 7 papers.
  • General formatting for References and in-text citations.
  • Proper formatting for citations for book chapters, journal articles, web sites, blog posts, and YouTube videos.
  • Block quotes.
  • Citing multiple authors.
  • Citing digital tools such as software applications.

The Digital Accessibility Feedback Checklist covers:

  • Basic paragraph text and section header formatting for Accessibility.
  • Table row and column headers.
  • Use of colored text and text font choice.
  • Including ALT text for images.
  • Avoiding text within images.
  • Color-Contrast Ratio.
  • Ensuring that videos have closed captions (and Descriptive Video, if possible).
  • Ensuring that embedded media does not auto-play.
  • Ensuring that embedded media controls do not require a mouse to operate.

Figure 1

The Digital Accessibility Feedback Checklist

Screenshot of the Digital Accessibility Checklist

Downloadble ResourcesDownload the complete Document Formatting and Digital Accessibility Checklist package (including mail-merge enabled versions).

I created the following video a while back. It provides a good overview of how to use the Excel file and merged Word document to automate the process of providing feedback with the templates for your students.

Video resourceAutomating Feedback Rubrics Using Spreadsheets and Mail Merge (9:53)

Additional Resources

Check out the Power Learning Solutions Digital Accessibility Resources page for more tips and tricks to increase digital accessibility in your documents and web-based content.


Power, R. (2020, February 6). Automating Feedback Rubrics Using Spreadsheets and Mail Merge. [Video].

Power, R. (2022, February 16). Adding Accessibility to Student Feedback. [Web log post]. Power Learning Solutions.

Power, R. (2022). Digital Accessibility. [Web page]. Power Learning Solutions.

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