Not sure where to start when evaluating your web and digital content? This checklist addresses some of the most common accessibility issues.
This checklist is not a complete list of accessibility guidelines and is intended to serve as an overview.
Many individuals, including those who are blind or visually impaired, often choose to navigate websites by headings when using screen readers. This provides an efficient method to determine what content is most important.
- Follow a logical outline in organizing the content on your page and use H2 to H6 hierarchically without skipping heading levels. H1 headings should be reserved for the page title.
- Avoid using bolded text instead of a heading.
- If there are large blocks of text on your site, consider breaking it up into smaller sections and adding appropriate headers.
- Avoid using words in all capital letters instead of the proper heading level.
- It is best to avoid large blocks of italic text, colored text, underlined text, decorative fonts, and writing in all-caps. These formatting choices can make text difficult to read.
- Stick to left aligned paragraphs, avoid using justified text (text with alignment on both the left and right margins) since the justification algorithm sometimes causes irregular spacing between letters and words which can be more difficult to read.
- Use familiar language and provide definitions for unusual words and for abbreviations.
- Screen readers associate strings of capital letters as acronyms. This means they read them out letter by letter instead of reading them as a sentence. If it is appropriate to the site design for a section to display in all caps, that is something that the developer will build into the site. For the same reason, you should not use all capital letters for headings or titles. Instead, use the appropriate heading level.
Use bulleted or numbered list styles to denote list structure. This also ensures consistent formatting and helps screen readers understand content structure and organization. Screen readers have to be given instructions to know how to organize content. They will not recognize manually added numbers or asterisks as a list of content.
Link text is used to describe the target content that you’re linking to. Screen reader users can generate a list of the links on your page, have them read alphabetically, and navigate the webpage from there. Since screen reader users often do not read the link within the context of the rest of the page, using descriptive text properly explains the context of links to the screen reader user.
- Don’t use vague or generic link text.
- Don’t link the actual full url address. You should always link text instead of inserting an actual web address.
- Don’t only link the file type. For example, don’t only link to the ‘pdf’ on each item. Instead, also link to the full title of the file.
- Use descriptive link text for buttons. Avoid vague text like ‘click here’ or ‘Apply Now’.
Video & Audio
Provide captioning and audio descriptions for your videos. If you are using auto-generated closed captions or transcripts, review them for accuracy. Transcripts are required for all audio content, including podcasts.
Check to ensure images have alternate text.
Alternate text, often times referred to as ‘alt text’, is a brief text description of an image or graphic and helps make content more pleasant and easier to understand for many people, especially screen reader users.
When writing alt text, it should be informative, brief, and should indicate how the image is related to the surrounding content. Try to keep the length to 100 characters or less.
Images with embedded text
Avoid using images with embedded text. They can negatively affect both your website and the user’s experience in several ways. Screen readers can’t see text that is in an image. Search engines also can’t discover text embedded in an image.
Images with text can also cause issues for mobile devices or users of screen magnification tools because the text embedded is not scalable.