Veronica With Four Eyes

Zine Accessibility and Low Vision

I started learning about zine accessibility when one of my favorite cooking blogs released a zine filled with several different recipes that I was excited to try, which had been made available both as a print and a digital copy that I downloaded from their website. Zines are small-circulation self-published works that are created by one person or a small team, and cover various topics in-depth, including (but not limited to) fandom, disability, mental health, cooking, and social issues. I get questions from readers about zine accessibility and how to create an accessible zine often, so today I will be sharing my favorite resources for zine accessibility, with a special focus on accessible zines for low vision.

Creating a digital zine

Traditionally, zines are hand drawn or written out by hand and photocopied multiple times, which can be difficult for people with low vision to read. I’ve encountered a number of different options for creating a digital zine, including:

  • Scanning in page(s) using a scanner or scanning app. I prefer to scan in one page of the zine at a time, instead of scanning the unfolded zine and displaying all of the pages at once
  • Creating a digital zine using applications such as Adobe Creative Cloud products (InDesign has several accessibility options), Procreate, or similar
  • Creating a digital zine using web applications such as Canva or Flipsnack- I have not used Flipsnack myself, but use Canva for all of my blog graphics and love that there are numerous keyboard shortcuts
  • One of my friends created a zine by setting a custom template size in Microsoft PowerPoint/Google Slides and exporting the finished product as a PDF or other format.

Related links

File formats for accessible zines

Many digital zines I have encountered are in PDF file formats, but these are not necessarily accessible for screen reader users, especially if they include handwritten text. Some of my favorite file formats for accessible zines as a reader with low vision include:

Tagged PDF

A tagged PDF features alt text and image descriptions for graphics, and text can be read out loud by a screen reader or with text-to-speech. To learn more about how to make accessible PDFs for zines, I have linked a free resource from Texas Tech University that covers how to make tagged PDFs from Canva, though these tips can also be applied to PDFs created in other programs.


Microsoft Word and Google Docs are great options for writing text-based zines that include headings, emoji, images, and other types of content. These types of zines can be enlarged or read with assistive technology more easily than PDFs. I recommend having a text-only version of zines that involve a lot of graphics or handwritten content.


Microsoft Office Sway is a free design tool for creating one-page websites, newsletters, and other types of digital content that can be accessed anywhere, with options to set private links. Multimedia files such as audio, video, and images can be added to a Sway, with support for captioning, transcripts, and other accessibility tools

HTML or website

Another option I’ve encountered is a web/digital version of zines that are hosted on a website, or that have links to accessible versions. When writing image descriptions or alt text that go beyond the character limit on social media, I recommend sharing a link to a website where users can access the full text of image descriptions.

Related links

Consider font choices and text contrast

I’m a huge fan of sans serif fonts, and have an entire blog post about my favorite fonts for low vision and print disabilities. It’s helpful for me to have text on a high-contrast background that does not blend into images or other details- for example, on my website I have black text on a white column/background, which is easier to read than if I printed black text on a purple background. Adobe and WebAIM offer free color contrast checkers that can help to ensure readability.

When it comes to reading handwriting, I have a few different applications I use for reading handwritten text, which is linked below. For zines that use handwritten text, a few options for making text accessible include:

  • Providing a typed transcript or text-only view of the zine that can be enlarged more easily
  • Taking a screenshot/saving an image of the handwriting and writing alt text, which includes all text written out verbatim

Related links

Drawing and creating accessible art

Personally, I find art that is drawn in pencil or charcoal on a white background to be difficult or impossible to see, and recommend using art materials with saturated or high-contrast colors.

For creators that scan copies of their zine pages as images, I would recommend saving images in the PNG format, which is high-resolution and can more easily be enlarged with gestures like pinch-to-zoom or browser zoom.

Related links

Include image descriptions and/or alt text

Alt text and image descriptions are text-based descriptions of visual details in an image written primarily for people who are visually impaired (inclusive of blind/low vision). They are an important key to zine accessibility, as zines are traditionally a very visual medium. I have a vast collection of alt text and image description resources on my website, and have received positive feedback from authors and creators of accessible zines about the specific posts linked below.

Image descriptions are similar to alt text descriptions that are used by screen readers to recognize images, though there are a few key differences between alt text and image descriptions:


Alt text is typically attached to an image metadata or added in the “alt text” box on social media. Image descriptions may be in the image caption, in a text post, or shared in a text link for extended descriptions.


Alt text is usually only visible to screen readers, which read the alt text out loud or display it on a braille display. Image descriptions are “exposed” and can be read by anyone. Twitter/X and Bluesky are two platforms that make alt text available to all- users can read it by selecting the ALT button on an image or gif that has alt text included.


A picture is worth a thousand words, but there may only be room for a thousand characters! Alt text is typically limited to 100-250 characters, though most best practice guides recommend keeping alt text to around 125 characters. Image descriptions can be the same length or even longer, since they are included in the photo caption, in a text post, or text link. I usually recommend people keep basic descriptions at around 280 characters, though there are several options for making extended descriptions as well.

Related links

If desired, make audio content available

When one of my friends wanted to read a zine but couldn’t find an accessible version, another friend created an audio version where they narrated each of the pages and described the images, sometimes mixing in ambient audio/music or adding their own sound effects. This can be done by the creator or by a fan of the zine, and I find the following formats to be the most helpful:

  • Adding audio QR codes to the pages- this can be done by uploading audio tracks to a free website like Vocaroo or
  • Posting a video on YouTube of the narrated zine (this can be done as an unlisted video so only people who have the link can find it)
  • Offering a MP3 version of the zine available for download

What about large print zines or braille zines?

I received a question from a reader about creating large print zines or braille zines that are accessible for the visually impaired. I prefer digital formats for large print zines over print ones because I can adjust the font size more easily by using screen magnification, increasing the text size, or using a simplified reading display. Also, the term “large print” is subjective to some degree- for example, 18-point font is technically large print (since it is larger than standard print), but that’s not large enough for me to read.

To make zines that are accessible in braille, I strongly recommend creating a text-only zine that has alt text/image descriptions that are typed out, instead of inserting images into the document. These files can be effectively read with a tool called a refreshable braille display, or can be sent for embossing. Since I do not read braille due to limited sensitivity in my hands, I don’t have any embossing services that I can personally recommend.

Related links

Sharing zines on social media

When sharing zines on social media, it’s important to ensure that alt text is added to images and/or image descriptions are made available. Outside of that, other things to consider when sharing accessible zines on social media include:

  • Mentioning the availability of accessible copies- some zine authors will send the accessible version(s) of a zine for free with purchase
  • Capitalizing the first letter of hashtags so that they are easier to see
  • Avoiding decorative fonts or ASCII memes in captions that cannot be read by screen readers

Related links

Other zine accessibility tips for readers and creators

Learn more about zine accessibility and how to create accessible zines for screen readers, assistive technology, and blind/low vision