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Web content accessibility

What is accessible web design

Accessible web design is universal web design. The concept of universal design means designing for the widest range of people's abilities. Adopting a universal design ensures information will be accessible not only to people with disabilities but to those using old, alternate, or emerging technologies. In keeping with this definition, it is important when developing web content to consider who will be accessing the information, and how they will be accessing it. For example, how does your page look:

  • on different browsers? (e.g., Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, text browser)
  • to users with different screen resolutions (e.g., 800 x 600, 1024 x 768, etc.)
  • with images and/or JavaScript turned off?
  • to individuals who are using tablets and iPads?
  • to individuals who are accessing the web on a smart phone?
  • to blind or low vision individuals who are accessing the web using a screen reader?
  • to individuals who are deaf? Is my audio content closed captioned or transcribed?

What do I need to do?

The majority of the web accessibility requirements are managed with K-State's content management system. By using the K-State templates, your website meets general standards of universal design. Items to remember as you create your content include:

  • Images should have useful alternative text. The CMS requires alternative text in order to add an image. The text should describe the image or purpose of the image in a way that will be helpful if it can't be seen.

  • Links to files other than html must note the alternate file type. For example, a link to a pdf should look like this: This is a pdf file (pdf). Additional common file types to note include Microsoft Word (Word) and PowerPoint (ppt).

  • Link text should be descriptive. For example: Register for the conference. Not: To register for the conference, click here. "Register for the conference" tells you exactly what the link is for and what you'll get when you click it.

  • Links should always open in the current window. Opening new windows breaks the back button — the top most click in the browser window. If your content is important to users, they will click the back button and return to it. Exceptions to this rule include links inside an application where clicking will lose context or information already entered. In this case the user must be notified that when they click a new window will open.

Legal responsibilities

K-State is required by Federal law (the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973) to provide access to its programs and services to all qualified individuals. These laws prevent K-State from building buildings without wheelchair access, and similarly, they prevent K-State from building web sites that deny access to persons who access the web through screen readers, can not hear audio content, or are unable to use a mouse.

Guidelines and standards

There are currently two primary sets of guidelines/standards for developing accessible web content. The first is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0), developed by the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Access Initiative (WAI); the second is the Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards developed by The Access Board as required by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, described above. The Access Board drew heavily upon the WCAG in creating its standards. 

State of Kansas Web Accessibility Requirements

SECTION 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Guidelines and standards from the United States Access Board

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines