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Accessible Web Content: About this Guide

Guide Purpose

To provide some Accessibility Best Practices [more information]* that were identified through a lens of Universal Design. In many ways, accessibility is trying to find the middle ground between various groups with different needs. It is easy to fix Web content perfectly for one group and make it unusable for another. This is why Universal Design is so important.

There are not best practices in Universal Design per se. It is more of a way of thinking. Be sure to think of the needs of as many users as you can and find a solution for everyone. Don't forget about best practices in Web Design. These practices were developed with usability in mind and assistive technology functions assuming these standards are followed.

*The Accessibility Best Practices are based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. In previous court cases, rulings use level A (minimum) and level AA of the WCAG as a benchmark. The new 508 standards, effective January 1, 2018, require government Web sites to comply with level A and level AA of the WCAG 2.0.

There are some criteria that are important for accessibility in level AAA, so they will be discussed as well. Do you want a rubric to help you evaluate content? Go to the Online Accessibility Rubric opens new window by Tammy Stitz and Shelley Blundell

The Perfect Library Guide is as Rare as an Unicorn

Unfortunately, no one can design a Library Guide or Webpage that is 100% accessible to everyone in every way. However if you weren't designing any of your Web content with Universal Design in mind, your Library Guide will be 100% better if you do.

It is likely that you have heard some of this information previously; however, there are conventions that have been known for a decade that are still common in Web content.

Once you are accustomed to providing Web content in this way, it will be second nature. Just remember

  • Accessibility is not something to throw together at the end. Not only is it very important, making it part of the design process will make your life easier.
  • The worst thing you can do is to do nothing. Do the best you can and fix your content when needed.
  • Accessible Web sites don't have to be boring. I would assert that a boring Web site is a barrier to most users. Making content accessible is removing barriers for users.

Organization of This Guide

  1. Required Minimum Accessibility Criteria contains the minimum criteria that is specified by the WCAG 2.0. This is the "you are asking for trouble if you don't follow these guidelines" Webpage.
  2. Additional Best Practice Criteria. By following the minimum criteria only, the guide will not be usable by many groups of users. Also, some of this criteria is listed in the new 508 standard. This is the "following these criteria so your users don't hate you" Webpage. Well, they would not hate you, but they would be super mad.
  3. Common Errors. Lists some common errors found on current library guides.