How can I make my website look good if it needs to be accessible?

  • WCAG guidelines don’t forbid anyone to use images, videos or JavaScript on their website. The only thing they say is, if you do, make sure that the content of the website is still accessible if the users are not able to, or choose not to, use them. That means providing captions and transcripts for videos, alternative text descriptions for images, mechanisms to control slideshows or using accessible JavaScript plugins, etc.
  • Clear and consistent navigation
  • Clear and understandable content
  • Use master style sheets for quick and easy changes.
  • Repurpose content for multiple formats and devices.

Is there a particular standard the website should follow?

  • Utah Valley University has adopted the WCAG 2.0, level AA as their standards.
  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is developed through the W3C process in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world, with a goal of proving a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally.
    • The WCAG documents explain how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. Web "content" generally refers to the information in a web page or web application, including:
      • natural information such as text, images, and sounds
      • code or markup that defines structure, presentation, etc.
  • These standards are currently the world's leading standards for web accessibility. When checking your website for accessibility you must be sure to comply with the single-A and AA standards of the web accessibility guidelines.

What additional benefits are there in making a website accessible?

  • Search engine optimization

    Many accessibility guidelines are the same as SEO techniques, for example valid HTML, clear link names, using text rather than images of text, descriptive ‘title’ tags, providing text equivalents for multimedia, creating a site map, etc. This means that incorporating accessibility will at the same time help to improve websites’ search engines ranking.

  • Increase website usage

    As accessible websites are easier to find, access and use, they maximize the number of possible visitors. And this in turn can boost company’s profits - e-commerce websites can increase sales and non-profit organizations get more funding.

  • Cost Savings

    Accessibility can help to decrease costs, such as maintenance costs, server costs, cost of upgrading to new technologies, cost of customer support services (as more people are able to complete many of the tasks online), etc..

  • Increase usability

    In general, accessibility increases usability of a website, and in effect improves quality of user experience. Some accessibility guidelines are similar to the usability ones, such as promoting clear and consistent design and navigation, dividing blocks of information into logical sections, good color contrast, etc. Increased usability makes users more likely to return to the website, use it more thoroughly and recommend it to others.

  • Reduced site development and maintenance time

    Although incorporating accessibility can increase site development time initially, in long term it reduces time spent on site improvements and maintenance. Using style sheets and coding to standards reduces effort needed to change presentation across a site.

What are common accessibility mistakes?

  1. images without alternative text
  2. lack of alternative text for imagemap hot-spots
  3. audio or video without captions or transcripts
  4. lack of alternative information for users who can't access frames or scripts
  5. tables that are difficult to decipher when linearized
  6. sites where color is the only way to distinguish elements, or with poor color contrast
  7. fonts that are fixed-sized. Fonts should be relatively sized in a CSS
  8. form fields that are not properly labeled
  9. pages with long navigation menus without a "Skip-Navigation" link