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What is Web Accessibility?

According to W3C, Web Accessibility Initiative, Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web. According to ARL's Web Accessibility Toolkit, accesible sites should do the following:
  • Provide appropriate alternative text. Alternative text provides a textual alternative to non-text content (such as pictures and images) in web pages. It is especially helpful for people who are blind and rely on a screen reader to have the content of the website read to them.
  • Provide appropriate document structure. Headings, lists, and other structural elements provide meaning and structure to web pages.
  • Provide headers for data tables. Tables are used online for layout and to organize data. Tables that are used to organize tabular data should have appropriate table headers. Data cells should be associated with their appropriate headers, making it easier for screen reader users to navigate and understand the data table.
  • Ensure links make sense out of context. Every link should make sense if the link text is read by itself. Screen reader users may choose to read only the links on a web page. Certain phrases like “click here” and “more” must be avoided.
  • Caption and/or provide transcripts for media. Videos and live audio must have captions and a transcript. With archived audio, a transcription may be sufficient.
  • Ensure accessibility of non-HTML content, including PDF files, Microsoft Word documents, PowerPoint presentations and Adobe Flash content
  • Do not rely on color alone to convey meaning. The use of color can enhance comprehension, but do not use color alone to convey information. That information may not be available to a person who is colorblind and will be unavailable to screen reader users.
  • Make sure content is clearly written and easy to read. There are many ways to make your content easier to understand. Write clearly, use clear fonts, and use headings and lists appropriately.

Screen Reader

What does a screen reader do?

  • Screen readers pause at punctuation to include periods and semicolons
  • They read the title of the page
  • They read headings, which allows the user to jump to the next section
  • They read alt text to describe images


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Heading one and two (H1, H2) are already in use by Springshare for the title and the box titles. Your headings should be at H4 or H3 consistently throughout the guide. Headings allow users to jump to next section.

Font Characteristics

  • For accessibility, font size 14 or higher should be used. Screen readers cannot read any text smaller than font size 12
  • Font should be defined at the system level.
  • Not all fonts are friendly for the web.
  • Check out Google Fonts.
  • Do not underline text for emphasis as underlined text will be read as a hyperlink by screen readers.

Page Layout

Layout Options

Layout options are based on percentages. According to Springshare, the predefined options are based on best web practices and readability of the pages. Let's look at a sample guide from Springshare that shows the same content in 1, 2, 3 and 4 columns.