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For Content Creators

To ensure equal access to information for all people, all Northwestern web and digital content should be compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. You can review your site using our basic website accessibility checklist below.

When considering content accessibility, it's important to keep in mind the different components that will need to be made accessible. For implementation tips and best practices for creating accessible web pages, documents, audio and video, visit our web and digital content accessibility page.

"Must Have" Checkpoints

Following these “Must Have” checkpoints from the list will make your site W3C compliant. We recommend you follow as many “Must Have” and “Should Have” checkpoints and try to attain as many ”Good to Have” checkpoints as possible.

Provide text equivalents to all non-text content

  • Provide a description of all images, sound files, applets, etc. in an ALT attribute. The ALT attribute allows you to convey to all users the content and meaning of the  page. For example: <img src="picture.jpg" ALT="Northwestern University Library">
  • If the image is redundant or simply decorative, mark it as “Decorative” using Cascade or give it a blank ALT tag (ALT="").
  • If your site has graphs or charts, try to summarize content to go within the Alt attribute. If necessary, provide a text description on the page itself that will also be helpful for sighted users.
  • If your page cannot contain text equivalents within it, consider creating a parallel text-only version of the page, but only as a last resort.
  • If your non-text content is dynamic, make sure that equivalents change with the non-text elements.
  • For more help, refer to an Alternative Text Style Guide and some examples of alternate text.

Use headings and lists to organize your content

  • If you are a Cascade user (or other CMS, if applicable), use WYSIWYG formatting options to style your text.
  • Use mark-up language rather than images, visual cues, fonts or sizes alone, to emphasize the structure of your page.

Use descriptive links

  • Instead of denoting a link with the words "Click here" or similar phrase, be descriptive when providing links; for example: link "further information from the W3C on Web accessibility" instead of "Read more."
  • Within the content of a page it is customary to underline links. In the navigation area of a page, it is acceptable to use a clear, consistent, non-underlined link format such as a specific and distinct font, style, and size.

Provide alternate routes to information for multimedia content

  • Provide transcripts and captioning of audio and video.
  • Use special effects with caution and only with good reason.
  • Do not use Flash, Shockwave, or other interactive elements because special effects:
    • May not be accessible to some users.
    • May not work (or will work unpredictably) on different systems.
    • Are harder to implement and maintain.
    • Take longer to download and often require users to install plug-ins.

Make sure that text and graphics make sense without color

  • People who are blind, color blind, visually impaired or who are using devices with noncolor or nonvisual displays will not receive or understand information that relies on color for its meaning.
  • Choose backgrounds that contrast with page text and don't interfere with the readability of content.

"Should Have" Checkpoints

The “Should Have” checkpoints will make your site accessible for most people. These checkpoints emphasize proper use of HTML and style tags.

Create a site map for your website

  • Navigation of pages using server-side image maps requires a mouse, which renders the page inaccessible to most visually impaired users. If used, consider providing a link to an alternate text version or summary.
  • Client-side image maps are accessible because the information is stored locally and can be linked to using a text reader.

Avoid using browser detects

  • Different content is presented to different visitors based on the browser. If something doesn't work in a given browser, that element should not be used at all instead of only being presented to a segment of visitors.

Avoid using deprecated tags and attributes

"Good to Have" Checkpoints

The checkpoints under the “Good to Have” category will make your site easy to access for people with disabilities.