Accessible web content

Is your content accessible to all users? 

Creating web content with digital accessibility in mind can ensure that every potential site visitor has access to your content regardless of ability, context or situation. Remember what the Web Accessibility Initiative says, web accessibility “is essential for some, useful for all.”

When creating accessible web content, be mindful of the assistive technology that people may be using when they visit your site. Common examples of assistive technology include screen readers, screen magnifiers and speech recognition software.

Tips for creating accessible web content
Write useful descriptions for your images
  • Make sure that your descriptive text is detailed and provides enough context to be understood by someone who cannot see the image. If you don’t write an image description, screen readers may read out the image file name to the user, which can be very confusing!
  • Don’t begin with the phrase “Image of…” - screen readers will tell the user that it is an image and then read the description
  • Use “Screenshot of…”, if the image is a screenshot
  • Write in full sentences with correct punctuation
  • Make sure your descriptions are just that: descriptive! For example, for the following image “Child wearing rain boots walking a beagle through a puddle” is a better description than “Child walking dog"

Child wearing rain boots walking a beagle through a puddle

Ensure you are using descriptive text for your links

  • Write hyperlinks so that someone can understand what is on the page before they click on it. Providing information about what will occur when someone selects a link before they select it is helpful for people with learning and/or cognitive disabilities. For example, contact Marketing and Communications is a descriptive link, while click here is not

Follow general guidelines for writing for the web

  • Keep content clear, create bulleted lists and use short sentences and easy-to-understand language.
  • Avoid using jargon, complicated language or unexplained acronyms.

Refrain from using blinking or flashing content

  • Make sure that any videos present on your site do not contain any flashing, blinking or strobing lights. Blinking lights may trigger seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy. If your content must include flashing lights, make sure to include a prominent warning above the video, and prevent the video from automatically playing when someone scrolls to it.

Use text transcripts for video 

  • If your site has many videos, consider providing users with transcriptions of the videos. YouTube does have automatic closed-captions for each video, however, these are often inaccurate and can make the video harder to understand for people with hearing impairments. When submitting videos for Memorial’s YouTube channel, please provide transcripts to ensure that the captions can be checked for accuracy and accessibility.
  • If you decide to not use transcriptions, make sure to include a brief description of the video in your text content.

Provide ways for users to navigate, find content and determine where they are

  • Some of these aspects are already built-into the web template, including the search feature and the overall menu structure, but it’s important to always ensure that you have an organized menu structure, especially for people with disabilities.

Ensure that any documents you are uploading are also accessible:

  • If you are uploading a PDF document to your site, take a few minutes beforehand to make sure that the document is also accessible. Microsoft offers an automatic accessibility checker program which will provide suggestions on how to make changes to your document to make it more accessible. If you’re looking for information on how to construct accessible documents, you can read the clear print guidelines written by the Council of Ontario Universities.
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