Users with disabilities should have equal access and equal opportunity to browse your website. This is the accessibility of a website. University Web Policy requires webpages and websites to be accessible.

Accessibility Tips

When working on your website, keep in mind some of the following accessibility techniques:

  • Use “alt" and "title" text descriptions of images posted on a website. Screen readers will read this text to visually impaired users. Make sure your alt tag is meaningful and concise. Learn more about using alt and title descriptions.
  • Use a design that allows text to be expanded in size. Users who have difficulty seeing will increase their text size to view your website.
  • Make your hyperlinks look different from regular text content. This is helpful to all users, but those users with impaired vision and with color blindness will particularly benefit from this practice. Visit Vischeck to simulate how a colorblind user will see your website.
  • Choose colors that color-blind viewers can distinguish. You can check colors for this characteristic at Vischeck. In addition, essential functionality should not depend on color distinctions.
  • Make your navigation clear and consistent. Again, all users will thank you for this, but this is especially important to users with visual impairment or cognitive disabilities.
  • Allow moving elements to be paused or stopped. This gives users with vision impairment and cognitive disabilities a chance to see this moving content. This is especially needed if important text is changing or moving in some fashion. Give all users a chance to read this content.
  • Avoid blinking or flashing effects. Such effects can trigger a seizure. Make these optional or avoid them altogether.
  • Pay attention to page width. Make sure that all pages can be viewed on a 1024 x 768 pixel screen, without horizontal scrolling. Practically, that means defined table widths or combined widths of images cannot exceed 980 pixels.
  • Check browser compatibility. Pages should be readable by all browsers with emphasis on the following: Internet Explorer 9.0 and higher, Firefox 45.0 and higher, Safari 8.0 and higher, Chrome 50.0 and higher, as well as Lynx or other text-only browsers.
  • Optimize images for fastest download time possible. To facilitate use by text-only browsers, include the <alt> and <title> attributes of the image tag with descriptive text for every critical image. Spacing GIFs, bullets, and other incidental images should also use empty <alt> attributes of image tags (<alt="">). All image tags should also specify image height and width to improve download time.
  • Make tables readable when linearized.If tables are used, the content must make sense when linearized (e.g., by text-only browsers).
  • Make provisions for nonframes browsers. One approach is to add a <noframes> tag, which links either to the main content frame or to an alternative page.
  • Use Java, Javascript, and Flash sparingly. Because browsers used by the visually impaired often do not include Java, JavaScript, or Flash, do not implement essential functions using those programs unless you provide an alternative text version of the content.

Accessibility Resources

W3C Web Accessibility Initiative: Strategies and guidelines for making websites accessible to users with disabilities; its Introduction to Web Accessibility gives a good overview of what this practice is and how to implement it on your website.

Americans with Disabilities Act Website: Information on the accessibility of state and local government websites; outlines the Voluntary Action Plan for Accessible Websites and shows an example of these accessibility methods incorporated into a website.