Developing Accessible Websites

Guidelines for web developers and other content creators, to make their content accessible by individuals with disabilities

If you're a web developer or content provider, it's your responsibility to make your content accessible to everyone, including individuals with disabilities.

Anyone developing content (text, images, video, etc.) for inclusion in UC-affiliated online publications or systems must ensure that all the necessary elements are provided to make the content accessible to individuals with disabilities, including visually- and hearing-impaired people. 

Accessibility considerations

For those unfamiliar with accessibility issues pertaining to web page design, consider that many users may be operating in contexts very different from your own:

  • They may not be able to see, hear, move, or may not be able to process some types of information easily or at all.
  • They may have difficulty reading or comprehending text.
  • They may not have or be able to use a keyboard or mouse.
  • They may have a text-only screen, a small screen, or a slow Internet connection.
  • They may not speak or understand fluently the language in which the document is written.
  • They may be in a situation where their eyes, ears, or hands are busy or interfered with (e.g., driving to work, working in a loud environment, etc.).
  • They may have an early version of a browser, a different browser entirely, a voice browser, or a different operating system.

Content developers must consider these different situations during page design. While there are several situations to consider, each accessible design choice generally benefits several disability groups at once and the web community as a whole.


The goal of these guidelines is to promote accessibility, and to make web content more available to all users, however they're accessing the web (e.g., desktop browser, voice browser, mobile phone, automobile-based personal computer, etc.) or constraints they may be operating under (e.g., noisy surroundings, under- or over-illuminated rooms, in a hands-free environment, etc.). Following these guidelines will also help users find information on the web more quickly. These guidelines allow for the use of images, video, etc., but also explain how to make multimedia content more accessible to a wide audience.

  1. Provide meaningful descriptions of any images. 
    Appropriate alternate text is a short description of an image that a screen reader can access and "read" to the user. Without alt text, the visually disabled user will miss the image and its meaning.
  2. Organize and structure the content to help users navigate the page, determine where they are, and find the content they want.
    • Break content into sections with understandable headings.
    • Use "Heading 1/2/3" paragraph styles, instead of different font sizes, to indicate structure and hierarchy.
  3. Carefully select the language to be used for links.
    • Accessing links and making sense of them is critical to disabled users.
    • Use language that describes where the link goes, and avoid using the same text for links that go to different locations.
  4. Provide transcripts for all audio.
    The transcript must be available for hearing-impaired individuals. YouTube has tips for creating and formatting a transcript file. 
  5. Caption all video.
    • At a minimum, provide the text to be used for captioning, or better, provide an already captioned video. Captioning ensures that deaf or hearing impaired individuals can use the video.
    • YouTube can use speech recognition technology to automatically create captions for your videos. You should always review the automatically created captions and edit for accuracy.
  6. Don't use color as the only way to indicate meaning.
    The classic example is a green button for "go" and a red button for "stop." However, a colorblind individual may not be able to distinguish the buttons, and a screen reader can't interpret the colors. To remedy this situation, use shapes or text to distinguish buttons, and provide alt text that can be read by the screen reader.
  7. Create tables that can be understood when read line-by-line.
    Screen readers read tables row by row. Provide table headers that will allow designers to correctly mark up tables.
  8. Pre-plan for accommodation needs with timed content. 
    Some disabled users may need more time to navigate and access the material. Ensure there will be an option to extend time limits.
  9. Write concise and logical text.
    Screen reader users can save time and frustration if the text is short and to the point.

More Information

Computer and information accessibility requires ongoing coordination with a number of service providers on campus:

More information on web content accessibility guidelines: