World Wide Access: Accessible Web Design

The World Wide Web has rapidly become the most popular Internet resource, combining hypertext and multimedia to provide a huge network of educational, governmental and commercial resources. Yet because of the multimedia nature of the medium, many Internet surfers cannot access some of these materials. Some visitors

Following universal design principles ensures that all Internet users can get to the information at your Web site regardless of their disability or the limitations of their equipment and software. Use the following guidelines when developing and revising your Web pages to ensure that they are accessible to a diverse audience!

General Page Design

The Web has mushroomed in popularity because it is such a powerful and versatile medium. Much of its power comes from the fact that it presents information in a variety of formats while also organizing that information through hypertext links. As a result, designing a well organized site is essential to helping visitors navigate through your information.

Graphical Features

People who are blind cannot view the graphical features of your Web site. Many people with visual impairments use voice output programs with text-based browsers (such as Lynx) or graphical browsers with the feature that loads images turned off. Include text alternatives to make the content in these graphical features accessible. Here are guidelines for providing alternative text for various types of visual features.

Special Features

Web Pages Test

Test your Web page with as many Web browsers as you can, and always test your Web page with at least one text-based browser. This way, you will see your Web resources from the many perspectives of your users. You may want to try out an accessibility validation site which performs a diagnostic on your pages and points out parts that could be inaccessible. Testing your site is especially important if you use HTML editor software to write your pages. Some HTML editor programs do not automatically include ALT attributes and other accessibility features. You may need to revise your code to include the accessibility guidelines covered in this brochure.


Bobby, created at CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology), is an HTML validator program designed to test accessibility in addition to highlighting non-standard and incorrect HTML.

DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology) at the University of Washington includes a listing of Internet resources for accessible Web design, as well as other information.

EASI's (Equal Access to Software and Information) Web site provides both a good introduction to many issues related to serving patrons with disabilities including accessible Web design.

The National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) promotes the use of a Web Access symbol and provides model examples of accessible pages.

The Trace Research and Development Center provides resources for design of accessible Web pages including applet and plug-in features.

World Wide Access Videotape

An 11 minute video that introduces accessible Web design, World Wide Access, may be ordered through -DO-IT.

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