Website Accessibility

As more and more of everyday life and work moves onto the internet, it is becoming increasingly important that what is available on the web is accessible to as many people as possible. But people with physical disabilities such as blindness, color blindness, deafness or limited mobility and those with cognitive or learning disabilities can get left behind. Being aware of issues that affect who is able to effectively use a site can help developers create sites that are accessible to people with a wide range of abilities.

When designing an educational resource, it is worth giving some thought to these issues as well. If you have not had a student in your class with some sort of disability, you probably will at some point. These students should be given the same opportunity to take advantage of any online resources that you create for your classes. Also, it is often the case that creating accessible pages enhances their usability for everyone, including those without disabilities.

Checklist for Accessibility

(Excerpted from Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (more info) )
  1. Provide equivalent alternatives to auditory and visual content.
  2. Don't rely on color alone.
  3. Use markup and style sheets and do so properly.
  4. Clarify natural language usage.
  5. Create tables that transform gracefully.
  6. Ensure that pages featuring new technologies transform gracefully.
  7. Ensure user control of time-sensitive content changes.
  8. Ensure direct accessibility of embedded user interfaces.
  9. Design for device-independence.
  10. Use interim solutions.
  11. Use W3C technologies and guidelines.
  12. Provide context and orientation information.
  13. Provide clear navigation mechanisms.
  14. Ensure that documents are clear and simple.

Other resources

  • Bobby. A service for testing your web pages for accessibility, according to either the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 1.0) or the U.S. Section 508 Guidelines. ( This site is likely no longer available. )
  • Getting Started: Making a Website Accessible. This site provides an initial introduction for people new to Web accessibility. It features topics such as why web accessibility is needed, what makes a website accessible, resources for building accessible sites, and tools for evaluating the accessibility of sites. It also includes links to additional resources including accessibility guidelines, techniques, and training resources. (more info)
  • Constructing Accessible Web Sites. Thatcher et al., 2002 This book examines the fundamental ideas of web accessibility, the technical issues involved, legal and policy issues, and the practical issues of making web sites accessible. (citation and description)
  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0. These guidelines explain how to make Web content accessible to people with disabilities. They are intended for use by all Web content developers as well as developers of authoring tools. This site also features a separate document about design techniques which explains how to implement the principles and ideas defined by the guidelines. (more info)
  • WebAIM: Web Accessibility in Mind. This comprehensive site on Web Accessibility provides "information and solutions": how-to's, training CD's, checklists, information on other web and non-web resources (books, videos, workshops, etc.), links to evaluation software. (more info)