Web Accessibility Recommendations

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.

Request Web Accessibility Training

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.
  • Informationally rich graphics, such as charts and graphs, require an appropriate "longdesc" attribute or D link.
  • Caption all video. YouTube has very useful built in captioning tools.
  • All audio files must contain links to text transcripts.


  • 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.
  • Links should have concise and descriptive screen text. Avoid using "Click Here" or "Read More" when possible.
  • Do not rely on color to convey meaning. For example, “the president’s comments are in red.” In addition, use only color contrasts distinguishable by those who do not see in color.
  • Use semantically correct heading structure.
  • Use relative, not fixed, font sizes.


  • Colors must have sufficient contrast between a text color and its background. This includes text on images, icons, and buttons.
  • Colors used to convey information on diagrams, maps, and other types of images must be distinguishable.
  • WCAG 2.0 (Level AA) requires a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text, and a contrast ratio of at least 3:1 for graphics.
  • Large text is defined as 14 point (typically 18.66px) and bold or larger, or 18 point (typically 24px) or larger.

Colored Text on the Web Web Color Palette

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

Site Navigation

  • 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.
  • 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: