At UON we pride ourselves on creating equitable study and work environments for all of our students and staff. As access to digital technologies increases, our virtual environments are no exception to that rule. We must always aim to create web content that is accessible to all users, including those with different disabilities and special needs.
How do we achieve this? Our University is committed to supporting the World Content Accessbility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, level AA. To help you meet the correct accessibility standards, you can download a WCAG checklist to reference while you publish.
We’ve also put together some of the key things you should always check to ensure your content is accessible.
The Alt attribute or Alt text is used to provide a text alternative for users with reduced browser functionality or a disability such as vision impairment. ALT attributes are important elements of an accessible website as they allow all internet users to “see” the whole page. Without it, that piece of content simply does not exist for some users. All images that enhance a piece of content in any way, must have the Alt attribute applied to reach AA compliance.
Alt text will also appear when an image doesn’t load correctly, so it’s important that a useful description of your image is always available.
For user accessibility it is important to use the correct heading styles and sizes. If you use an incorrect heading size because it looks aesthetically pleasing, it can create a misleading experience for anyone using a screen reader. Using the correct heading size is also important for good search engine optimisation (SEO).
When you create a new page, a Heading 1 (or H1) is automatically generated. Any additional headings after this should begin with a Heading 2 (or H2).
Always aim to make your hyperlinked text as clear as possible. This helps users identify where they might be headed if they click a certain link. If the link is not 100% clear, you can use the Title attribute to notify all users of the impending action. Title attributes should be used sparingly for this, so it’s best to create a clear text link if possible.
Note: The Title attribute is the little yellow pop-up box that sometimes appears when you hover over a hyperlink.
Tables are a fantastic way to display and organise data. However, using a table to layout images an text in your content can be tricky and can cause problems for our users, particularly for anyone using a screen reader.
If you do use a table to display data, keep the following in mind:
- Use the simplest configuration possible (less rows and columns = more accessible).
- When you insert your table, make sure to include a description of the content in the Summary field.
- Use clear headings to help users understand what information is included in a particular row or column.
There are other accessible ways to layout content that make good use of the space on your page.
Check out the following articles for more help:
Run an Accessibility Check!
Squiz has built in tools to help you run an accessbility check. Whenever you finish editing a page, you should always use the Accessibility Checker to ensure you have absolutely no errors. The same goes for approvers – always check content accessibility before you give any work the thumbs up. You should also make sure you complete the check in edit mode and not preview mode.
We understand that sometimes accessibility errors occur that are not always easy to fix. If you do recieve an error that you’re not sure about,submit a support request – the Web Team are here to help.