- Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires all Federal agencies to provide comparable access to information for federal employees and private citizens.
- The portion of Section 508 that pertains to Web sites and online information falls under Subpart B - Technical Standards, and provides a fairly short list of guidelines.
- For more information about Section 508, please go to this website: Section 508
Text Fonts and Colors
- Post clearly-written content. Users scan text rather than read word for word.
- Choose easy-to-read, sans serif fonts such as Helvetica, Verdana and Arial for paragraph text.
- Foreground and background colors should display sufficient contrast.
- All information that is conveyed with color should also be available without color.
- Choose colors distinguishable by colorblind users. Vischeck, an online tool, lets you see how your pages and images appear to colorblind users.
- Background images that blend in with overlaid text makes a Web page harder to read for users with low vision.
- Style sheets control appearance of web pages. Screen readers ignore style sheets when reading the content. Always check pages with styles turned off to see if the page still makes sense.
Graphics and Multimedia
- Use an ALT tag to provide a text description of all non-text items like images. Non-text items cannot be read by screen readers.
- Provide a text description of any data conveyed by a graph or chart.
- Provide transcripts for audio.
- Provide captions for video.
- Scrolling text 1) must be accessible to a screen reader, and 2) must be controllable by a user who may need more time to read.
- Certain animations, screen flicking, blinking objects, motion, etc. can cause seizures in some people.
- Pages should include a "skip to main content" link at the top of the page so that visitors using a screen reader can avoid repeated navigation links, menus and banners that appear on each page of a site.
- To make this link invisible to sighted users, use a tiny image the same color as the background with ALT text = "skip to main content." The link should take users to the top of the content section of the page.
- Use headings rather than font formatting to structure page headings.
- Attach a CSS stylesheet to your template to format website features.
- Use consistent navigation and menus.
- Use concise link text that also makes sense out of context. Do not use click here or read more... as link text).
- Tables should display data and not be used for page structure.
- The table data should make sense when "linearized," or read from left to right, top to bottom. This way, table cells are read by a screen reader in the order they appear in the HTML source code.
- Provide row and column headers using proper tags rather than font formatting.
- Electronic forms completed online should allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues.
- If a timed response is required, alert the user. Provide a way for the user to indicate if they need more time to respond.
- Screen readers are unable to read moving text. Make sure that moving, blinking, scrolling, or auto-updating objects or pages can be paused or stopped.
- If compliance with these guidelines is difficult, provide users with the equivalent information or functionality using a text-only page.
- Update the content of this page whenever the primary page changes.
- Put the link to your text-only version in the upper left-hand corner of the main Web page. This will make the link the first thing that a screen reader will read.