Web Accessibility

Graphic visualizing accessibility on the web

We are committed to making our web presence accessible and inclusive. The university is required to provide websites that are accessible to comply with federal and state requirements for accessibility and uses WCAG 2.0 (Level AA) as its web accessibility standard.

Information on the web, when properly designed, is accessible to all students and other visitors, including those with disabilities.

Besides having a philosophical commitment to serving people with disabilities, the university also has a legal obligation not to discriminate against people on the basis of disability. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires the university to make all websites accessible to users with visual, hearing, mobility, and cognitive disabilities.

Please heed the following general recommendations for accessibility. If you come across an issue not clarified here, consult the WCAG 2.0 (Level AA) guidelines.

Web Accessibility Guidelines

Images, Audio, and Video

  • Include clear and concise alternative "alt" text attributes for all relevant images and graphics appearing on your site. “Comment out” (for the screen reader) strictly decorative graphics with alt = “”. Use a testing tool to view images replaced with their alt text.

  • Provide an appropriate "longdesc" attribute or D link for informationally rich graphics, such as charts and graphs.

  • Caption all video. YouTube has very useful built in captioning tools.

  • Link to a text transcript for all audio files.

  • Ensure that your website do not contain anything that flashes more than three times in any one second period because it can induce seizures


  • Use concise, descriptive text in links. You should be able to understand what content you will see when you click on the link by only reading the link itself, without reading any surrounding copy. Avoid using "Click Here" or "Read More.".

  • Use correct heading structure.

  • Use relative, not fixed, font sizes.

  • Indicate the primary language of your page with the lang attribute inside the <html> tag using the correct SO 639-1 Language Code.


  • Do not rely only on color to convey meaning. For example, saying the president’s comments are in red or having a graph that has a legend that only indicates the items by color.

    Colored Text on the Web Web Color Palette

  • Ensure you provide sufficient color contrast for text. WCAG 2.0 (Level AA) requires a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for regular text and 3:1 for large text (18pt or 24px) or bold, larger text (14pt or 18.5px).

  • Ensure you provide sufficient color contrast for graphics. WCAG 2.0 (Level AA) requires a contrast ratio of at least 3:1 for graphics.

The Colour Contrast Analyser is an easy way to determine the legibility of text and the contrast of visual elements, such as graphical controls and visual indicators.

You can download and use this tool to check your color combinations for accessibility.

Colour Contrast Analyser

  • Make sure visitors to your website can navigate and operate your pages with the keyboard alone.

  • Provide clear and uniform site navigation features and the ability to “skip” to main content.

  • Focus needs to be rendered for keyboard, as well as mouse.

Site Structure and Formatting

  • Use style sheets that control layout and presentation, but documents should be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet.

  • Avoid frames, but if you use them, always clearly title each frame. Frames create printing problems and are not easily bookmarked, and search engines have trouble indexing sites with frames.

  • Any use of data tables requires appropriate header mark-up. Cells within nested or complex tables must convey all appropriate associated headers. They also require appropriate caption elements and the summary attributes.

  • For web forms, use appropriate mark up, such as label, legend, and field set.

  • Updated or refreshed areas of the page or screen must be announced and accessible to assistive technologies.

  • Page should maintain understandable structure if converted to one column or displayed without the associated style sheet.

  • Use label and field set attributes for forms. Submit via a button rather than an automatic script.
  • If using a CAPTCHA, ensure it is accessible via a screen reader.

  • Avoid time-limited interactions including “automatic” events. If that is not avoidable then provide warning and user control of the event.

  • Employ simply structured, consistent, and error-free code.

Resources and Background

One great benefit in adopting WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards is the tremendous amount of existing documentation. This documentation runs from the general to the highly specific.

Any web developer facing an unusual and complicated accessibility issue can usually find a solution after a quick web search. The standards are necessarily thorough and complex. Check the following sites for information on the WCAG 2.0 standards: