Creating accessible content is about making sure that all users can access and navigate your web content — including, and especially, users with disabilities.
Beyond providing a good user experience for all users, Seattle U is required by law to meet minimum accessibility standards; in practice, we strive to meet WCAG 2.1 AA standards.
As content editors of Seattle U's websites, there are several things you should do to increase the accessibility of your websites:
Writing clearly and simply is one of the most important things you can to do increase the accessibility of your web content.
"... the understandability of web content depends upon clear and simple writing. Unclear or confusing writing is an accessibility barrier to all readers, but can be especially difficult for people with reading disorders or cognitive disabilities."
— WebAIM: Writing Clearly and Simply
The concept of readability does depend greatly on the audience. As a university website, our audiences -- even the youngest prospective students -- generally speaking have a higher reading level than the general population. However, there are people with disabilities even among the most highly educated users, so there are always changes we can make to our content to make it more readable.
Organize your content into a structure using headings that convey a meaningful hierarchy.
Pages should be divided into parts labeled by headings. Organizing your content using headings and subheadings will allow all of your users (especially those using assistive technologies, like screen readers) to quickly and easily find the specific topics they are looking for on your web page.
Headings should be marked up using proper HTML headings so that users can easily understand and navigate your website content. Seattle U content editors can use the Text Editor in TerminalFour to add proper heading structure by clicking Format > Formats > Headings and then selecting Heading 1 through Heading 6.
When you use images or multimedia to convey important content to your users, it is important to include text alternatives that are accessible to users using assistive technologies.
Every image should have a short, concise 'alt' description; this description is read aloud to users by the screen reader and should convey the meaning of the image to someone who cannot see it (or see it well).
When you upload images to the Media Library, you should add an 'alt' description in the 'Description' field.
Avoid using images that include a lot of text on them. If the text is too long to put it in the 'alt' description, consider putting the text directly on the page instead of in an image.
If you decide to use a text-heavy image on your page, you must provide an accessible alternative.
In TerminalFour, we provide video content types which enable content editors to easily embed a YouTube or Vimeo video into your Seattle U websites.
When you are posting a link to a Word document or PDF on your Seattle U website, you'll want to make sure that your files are accessible before you upload them to the Media Library.
Firstly, you should make sure that links are working properly. See our blog post on Preventing 404 errors for more information.
Next, link text should make sense out of context and should give users an idea of where they will go when they click on the link. (So link text like 'click here' are uninformative and especially unhelpful for users using assistive devices).
Link text should be short; try not to use the entire URL for the link text, especially if it's lengthy and not human-readable (screen readers read the entire link text out loud).
Also, links should be the only text on a page that are underlined.
If you are using an image as a link, the image's 'alt' description should contain the description of where it will take users if they follow the link.
Tables on websites should be used to present tabular data only, and not to control the layout of your page.
If you need to present tabular data, then it's important for tables to be appropriately formatted in the HTML so that users can successfully navigate and derive meaning from the tables on your website.
But you don't have to know HTML in order to create accessible tables in TerminalFour.
Another strategy for making your tables more accessible is to add a caption and/or a summary. Table captions and table summaries are "metadata" which means that the information is not typically displayed on the page, but is added to the code "behind the scenes" but it is read aloud to users using a screen reader to provide context and other helpful information to derive meaning from the table. You can now easily add a table caption or summary by selecting Tables > Table caption/summary.
Some users (such as those with color blindness or contrast sensitivity) cannot easily distinguish between different colors, therefore you must be very mindful of how you use color and contrast on your website.
Try to stick with the color options that are built into the content types. The MarCom Web Team builds content types to meet accessibility standards.
Don't rely on color alone to convey meaning, direct navigation or differentiate between items.
Ensure you have sufficient contrast between the color of the text and the color of the background. If you're not sure whether you have sufficient contrast to meet accessibility standards, find out using a third-party resource such as the WebAIM Color Contrast Checker.
As always, if you have any questions about what you can do to make your web content more accessible, feel free to check out the resources below and contact the MarCom Web Team for assistance.