What is web accessibility?

Accessibility is important
Web accessibility means people with disabilities can access information like everybody else, interact with others without being labeled as disabled, and do activities they are otherwise unable to do. People can perceive and navigate the web no matter their disabilities.

Web accessibility encompasses all disabilities that can have an effect on using a website, such as:

  • Hearing impairment
  • Cognitive function
  • Neurologic disorder
  • Physical limitation
  • Speech limitation
  • Visual impairment

Web accessibility also benefits people without disabilities, for example:

  • People using mobile phones, smart watches, smart TVs, etc.
  • People with temporary disabilities, such as a broken arm or lost glasses
  • People with situational limitations such as in bright sunlight or in an environment where they cannot listen to audio
  • Older people who might have age-related limitations
  • People using a slow internet connection, or who have limited or expensive bandwidth

Why do I need to do it?

It's the law
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that all websites be accessible to people with disabilities.  W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 outlines the standards that must be followed in order to comply with the law.

Better search engine results
Accessible websites rank higher in search engines such as Google. The better your accessibity compliance, the closer to the top you get.

How do I do it?

Checklist for accessible Drupal content

Structure your pages properly

  • Use headings correctly to give structure to pages and make content scannable. Do not use bold text instead of headings (choose H2, H3, etc.) under style in the text editor. H1 is the page title and will be styled appropriately when you create new pages. For sub-headings you can use H2, H3, H4 headings ensuring you use these correctly to denote the hierarchy of different sections (i.e. do not use H3 above a H2 unless these refer to different subsections.)
  • Use the correct text editor mark-up icons for bulleted and numbered lists. This will ensure that screen readers can understand how to navigate (e.g. don’t use dashes instead of bullets).

Create meaningful link titles

Never use ‘click here’, ‘read more’ or ‘here’ for your hyperlink titles. Use a short and descriptive title that describes the link destination e.g. 'BBC website' ‘online accessibility checklist’ etc. This is so that all users regardless of the technology they are using understand the link title (this is a particular issue for users who prefer screen readers to read links first).

Provide alternatives for all media

  • Add alt text for images at the point of image upload to the Drupal media library.
  • Make text transcripts for audio content available as links where you have audio content.
  • Use captions for video content.

Do not convey meaning via visual media alone – especially avoid text on images (this is not screen reader accessible and won’t respond well to resizing on different devices.) We also recommend consulting our guidance on Visuals and use of colour for guidance on choosing and using visual elements.

Write for the web

  • Remember reading is more difficult online than in print and that for many of our users, English is their second language.
  • Keep copy concise and meaningful. Always use the active voice. Use the simplest word. Use the Hemingway App to check the readability of your content.
  • Avoid using all caps in text
  • Add description text to all file uploads


What's the law?

Conformance Levels
There are three conformance levels that must be met in order to satisfy the requirements of the standard.

  • Level A (minimum) – Addresses the most basic web accessibility features, but does not generally achieve broad accessibility.
  • Level AA (mid-range) – Addresses most common barriers for disabled users and aligns to the Revised 508 Standards
  • Level AAA (highest) – Addresses the highest level of web accessibility, but is not recommended as a general policy, because it is not possible to satisfy all criteria for some content.