Web Accessibility

At the click of a mouse, the world is at your fingertips — that is, if you can use a mouse…and see the screen…and hear the audio — in other words, if you don’t have a disability of any kind.

Each of the major categories of disabilities (visual, hearing, motor, cognitive) require certain types of adaptation in the design of web content. Most accessibility principles can be implemented very easily and will not impact the overall "look and feel" of your site.

University Web & Design handles most web accessibility centrally in our page templates, but there are several ways you can help ensure your webpages are accessible for all web users.

General web accessibility
  • Our design makes use of a color contrast checker to verify accessibility for our fonts, etc.
  • We require alt text on images.
  • We use CSS instead of decorative images in our web design.
  • We added WAI-ARIA Landmark roles to our page templates (W3C recommended, these provide assistive technologies navigation advantages).
Ways to make your site accessible
Hyperlink phrases rather than single words

Do not use "here" or "click here." Phrases are easier to spot, but should be descriptive. To meet accessibility guidelines descriptive phrases are crucial. For those using screen readers, hearing "link click here" is frustrating at best. Search engines also key in on hyperlinked text to improve their results — users are not searching for "click here."

Make images accessible

Image file names: Google looks at file names just as it looks at the URL and page name of your site. Giving it a meaningful name (but all lowercase, no spaces) will help both the search engine and yourself to find images. Try something like crim-dell-bridge.jpg instead of IMG0123.jpg.

Images on the page: All of your images should have "alt text" that is descriptive and can serve as a reasonable alternative to the image. This gives search engines and screen readers something to work with.

Make documents accessible

A document is considered accessible if it meets certain technical criteria and can be used by people with disabilities. It’s important to make sure your documents are accessible before uploading them into Cascade.

Use Proper Heading Structure

When encountering a lengthy web page, sighted users often scroll the page quickly and look for big, bold text (headings) to get an idea of the structure and content of the page. Screen reader and other assistive technology users also have the ability to navigate web pages by heading structure, assuming true headings are used (as opposed to text that is styled to be big and/or bold). Do not use text formatting, such as font size or bold to give the visual appearance of headings - use actual Heading 5 and/or Heading 6 for all content headings. WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind) lists all of the reasons why semantic structure is important.

Many of the guidelines in the Cascade Writing & Style Guide, when followed, improve our sites' accessibility.