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--ColetteLeung 01:33, 3 December 2010 (UTC)


Accessibility refers to the practice of making websites user-friendly for people of all abilities and disabilities.

This includes, for example, having textual equivalents for images, and links named so that text-to-speech software to be able to use it. Another example, would be having text and images that are enlargeable, as well as underlined links for the colour blind. Clickable links and areas should be large enough for people who cannot use a mouse with precision. If websites can be navigated by keyboard alone, this helps users who cannot use a keyboard. Videos should be closed captioned, or a have a sign language version available. Flashing effects should be avoided or made optional to avoid seizures, and content should be written in plain language and illustrated with instructional diagrams and animations to help those with LD and dyslexia.

Often individuals with disabilities use technologies such as screen reader software which can right out elements of what is displayed. Other software such as screen magnification allow for easier reading.

Basic Guidelines (for Web 2.0)

Basic guidelines include:

  • Providing alternatives to auditory / visual content
    • Text alternatives for non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms such as large print, Braille, speech, symbols or simpler language
    • Provide alternatives for time-based media and control
    • Create content that can be presented in different ways (ex. Simpler layout) without losing information
    • Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background (ex. Colours)
  • Using markup and style sheets properly
    • Make all functionality available from a keyboard
    • Provide enough time to read and use content
    • Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures
    • Provide ways to help users navigate, find content and determine where they are
  • Use clear language
    • Make text readable and understandable
    • Make web pages appear and operate in predictable ways
    • Help users avoid and correct mistakes
  • Design for device-independence
    • Maximize compatibility with assistive technologies

Levels of priority

There are three levels of priority for accessibility.

  • Level 1: MUST be satisfied or one or more groups cannot access the Web content
  • Level 2: SHOULD be satisfied or some groups will find it difficult to access
  • Level 3: MAY satisfy these requirements, in order to make it easier for some groups to access the Web content.

Other Information of Interest

The Canadian government also provides information on bilingualism in their websites, and a checklist to see if all three levels are met.

There are also tools such as WAVE, that allow users to determine the accessibility of a website.

Helpful links

Canadian Government

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, “Common Look and Feel Standards for the Internet, Part 2: Standard on the Accessibility, Interoperability and Usability of Web Sites,”

W3C for Web 2.0

W3C, “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0,”

Checklist for Priority levels

W3C, “Checklist of Checkpoints for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0,”


WebAIM, “WAVE - Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool,”

Example of website with two different pages for accessibility: Eugenics Archive

Dolan DNA Learning Center and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, “Image Archive on the American Eugenics Movement,”

Same website with alternate, more accessible page:

Dolan DNA Learning Center and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, “EugenicsArchive.Org: Image Archive on American Eugenics Movement,”

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