Web Guidelines

Accessibility

Designing/creating pages for people with disabilities

Accessibility Guidelines for Web Page Development

December 19, 2006 revised

Some visitors to the University’s Web site may have difficulty using the site due to visual, auditory, learning or mobility impairments. These users may rely on adaptive technology on their computer to access the Web. An example is a speech output system that reads the text on a screen. In order to provide access to the University Web site for a wide spectrum of potential users, certain accessibility guidelines should be followed. These guidelines are based on WC3 Web Accessibility (WAI) Initiatives.

Page Design

  1. Avoid using backgrounds that interfere with the text on the page. The text should contrast strongly with any pattern or color of background. Pattern backgrounds should be used sparingly if at all
  2. Use header tags appropriately. For example, use header 1 or 2 for main headings and smaller header tags for sub headings. Do not use header tags to color or enlarge non-heading text
  3. Make links descriptive so they can be understood out of context. For example, rather than "click here for a list of staff", use ‘staff listing" as a link. Too many words make the link ineffective; don’t link entire sentences
  4. Do not rely on color of text to provide information. For example, do not say "All new dates are in red text"
  5. Use cascading style sheets to define the look of the page, such as font face and heading colors. Use of the style sheets provided by the University is strongly encouraged
  6. If you use audio, video or animation on a page, provide as a minimum a text transcription of video and audio along with a text description of the action. Multimedia that are properly captioned and provided with audio descriptors are the ideal standard
  7. Do not use frames. Not only do they present bookmarking and printing problems for users, they also interfere with accessibility.
  8. Provide a tab order for each form element to allow keyboard access and contact information for those who cannot view the form or database
  9. Only those Java applets compiled with Sun accessibility class should be used on Web pages. Test the pages with Javascript turned off if you are unsure of accessibility

Images

  1. Provide alt tags for all images to describe their graphical content. This is a crucial element to accessibility design
  2. Information presented in an image format, such as an image of a manuscript, should include a link to a text description of the information. If you are unsure of the importance of an image, remove it from the page to assess the impact
  3. Avoid the use of image maps when possible. If an image map must be used, insert alt tags for the regions of the map or provide the same text links on the same page

Testing

  1. Turn off the images in your browser and view the page to see it still meets the intended purpose. You should be able to understand the content of the page and navigate easily among them. In Netscape, choose edit -> preferences-> advanced (double click) and uncheck automatically load images. In IE, choose tools -> Internet options -> advanced and uncheck show pictures. You can also turn off Java and Javascript on these dialog boxes.
  2. Pages can be submitted to Bobby, an HTML validation program for accessibility testing
  3. WC3’s Web Accessibility Initiative has an extensive site of accessible Web design information
  4. IBM has a well organized site to assist with design elements
  5. Microsoft has accessibility information