Check Site Accessibility

The University has a legal obligation to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, this means making sure all our websites are accessible. Web accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to websites, by people with disabilities. When sites are correctly designed, developed and edited, all users have equal access to information and functionality. Web accessibility in its most basic definition is about making sure websites work for the widest possible audience. If we flip the conversation, we can also see that web accessibility can actually benefit everyone, including people without disabilities. At its core, web accessibility is about making web design flexible, increasing usability for all. 

Evaluate your website for the following:


Page Structure and Headings

Use headings to structure the content of your page in a logical fashion. Screen readers use heading tags to navigate a page's content. Screen reader users can hear an outline of the page's main ideas, then navigate the page using the headings to read the sections of the page that contains the information they need. Without headings, this method of skimming through content is impossible.

The logical order starts with H1 and works down to H6. The page title is set to an H1 automatically, the next header should be an H2, and any subheads H3. Do not skip heading levels. Using headings properly can mean letting go of the way your page looks -- you might think the headers are too big or too small. But you've got to make your page work for everyone. Screen reader users rely heavily on properly structured pages to help them skim the page. 

Related: Headings


Link Text

Link text should make sense out of context and it should be obvious where the link will take a user. That means, don't use "Click Here" or "More Information" for your link text. Instead, make the text more descriptive. In fact, the phrase "click here" is unnecessary, even if it precedes a more meaningful phrase. If these extra words can be avoided, it is probably best to avoid them

Related: Link Text


Image Alternative Text

Web Express requires alternative (alt) text when an image is uploaded. The alt text needs to be something more than "figure4". It needs to succinctly describe the content of the image, especially if you are using that image to impart important information. Does your image say "Register by February 15?" Then your alt text needs to say that as well. 

Related: Image Alternative Text and Images of Text


Content Formatting

Headings should not be used to style text. Use various stylistic elements (italics, bold, or styles such as Lead) to highlight important content. Overuse can result in the loss of differentiation. Do not use italics or bold on long sections of text. Avoid all caps.

Check that your pages do not have Page Title/ Heading redundancy. The first heading on a page should not duplicate the page title. 


Use of Tables

Using tables for page layout adds additional verbosity for screen reader users. Whenever a screen reader encounters a table, the user is informed that there is a table with "x" number of columns and rows, which distracts from the content. Also, the content may be read in an order that does not match the visual order of the page. Do not use a table to layout content. Instead use shortcodes that create  columns on a page or blocks that create grids and rows of content.

When a data table is necessary (i.e. you have a set of data that is best interpreted in a table format, such as a bank statement), use headers for rows and columns. Headers help explain the relationship of cells. 

Related: Accessible Tables


Use List Formatting for Lists

Sounds so simple, but lists are so often not formatted correctly. The Web Express WYSIWYG editor has unordered and ordered list buttons for marking up lists. Unordered lists are good for ordinary bulleted lists and navigation links. Ordered lists are basically numbered lists, used to show steps in a process. Since you are using an editor that converts your content to HTML code for you. It is important to utilize the list buttons because this will ensure the coding for a list is created. 

Lists are great from an accessibility standpoint because they provide structured order to content in a linear fashion. Lists are recommended as potential replacements for simple tables. Look for content that could be formatted as a list to help structure your content for improved accessibility.


Accessible Documents

The most accessible content is a webpage, but there are times when you need to upload documents to your site. Any uploaded document needs to be an accessible document. The core principles are the same for all document types.

  • Use headings
  • Use lists
  • Add alternate text to images
  • Identify document language
  • Use tables wisely

Related: Accessible Files and Accessible PDFs