Making Websites Accessible

This checklist is a starting place for those new to web accessibility, and it highlights some of the most common issues found within websites in higher education.

  • All videos should include captions and an available transcript file.
    Note: Audio descriptions are recommended for nonverbal action sequences.
  • All podcasts (audio lectures, interviews, talks, etc.) should include text transcripts.
  • All content can be accessed using only a keyboard. A focus style is used so keyboard users can clearly see where they are on the page (i.e., a:focus).
  • All images should include appropriate alternative text (i.e., the “alt” attribute).
  • All form fields should have labels (i.e., <label>), or if a label cannot be used, the title or aria-title attribute should be utilized.
  • All data tables should have defined table headers (i.e., <th>).
    Note: Additional tags and attributes may be needed for complex tables.
  • All content is still available when zoomed at 200%. Text can be resized.
  • There is sufficient color contrast to easily read text. Additionally, color alone should not be utilized to convey important information.
  • All pages should have a “skip nav” or “skip to main content” link at the top of page.
  • All PDFs, when they must be used, are text instead of scanned images of text.

Additional resources

Did you know?

  • In the United States, about 55 million people have a disability (src: 2010 U.S. Census).
  • About 1 in 5 Americans have some kind of disability (src: 2010 U.S. Census).
  • The percentage of people affected by disabilities is growing as our population ages.
  • Two popular, free screen readers are VoiceOver (Mac OS and iOS) and NVDA (Win).
  • Good accessibility practices can improve the search ranking of your website.
  • Form fields without labels can cause problems for some assistive technology users.
  • Low color contrast makes content difficult to see, especially for users with low vision.
  • Documents linked on a website need to be accessible too (e.g., PDF and Word files).
  • Audio content, like podcasts, need transcripts for deaf or hard of hearing users.
  • Online videos should be captioned for deaf or hard of hearing users.
  • Using HTML tags correctly is very important for accessibility.
  • Descriptive link text helps make a website more accessible. Avoid using "Click here" or "Read more."
  • A "screen reader" is an application that reads content aloud to a user.
  • There is no "alt tag" in HTML. "Alt" is an attribute used with the img tag.
  • HTML uses the alt attribute to provide a text description of an image.
  • Alt text should describe an image, if the purpose of the image is to convey information.
  • If an image is a link, the alt text for the image should explain where the link goes.
  • If an image is only being used for decoration, the alt text should be null (i.e., alt="").
  • If a table has headers, using header tags (<th>) will make the table more accessible.
  • An accessible website is one that can be navigated and understood by everyone.