In the context of a webpage and its content, accessibility is the idea that all information on the page is equally available to everyone, including those who use assistive technologies because they have visual or other impairments. So when we talk about creating accessible webpages, we mean building them such that they can be consumed and understood by all people without regard to the devices and technologies they use to access them.
For a more in-depth overview, WebAIM’s introduction to web accessibility is a great place to start.
Why is it Important?
In short: It is the college’s goal to make all its webpages accessible to all visitors and the college has a legal obligation to do so. More generally, as a welcoming, inclusive community, it is important that no one be excluded, even inadvertently, from the services and information we provide.
What is Your Responsibility?
If you are creating content for Williams websites, you are responsible for making that content accessible to all audiences. That means all images, text and links you add to a webpage must be formatted such that those who have impaired vision or difficulty manipulating a mouse, for example, have equal access to the content.
This may sound intimidating, but it’s actually pretty easy when you follow the best practices outlined below. And you are not alone: The college’s web team is working hard to make sure our templates meet all applicable accessibility standards and to provide the training and tools you need to fill those templates with accessible content.
Creating Accessible Web Content
“Hyperlinks” — AKA URLs or just links — are the foundation of webpage interconnectedness. When creating links from one page to another page, put some thought into the text that is actually linked. It should be succinct yet informative and provide context to help the reader decide whether it’s worth following. “Click here,” for example, is succinct but not informative and should be avoided.
Photos, Images and Graphics
Adding a photo or a graphic to your webpage can be a good way to create visual interest and convey meaning or information. Unfortunately, that meaning will be hidden from those using assistive technologies if you don’t also add a description of the image in the “alternative text” field. Adding this description is important and mandatory.
Learn how to add alt text to graphic files on your website.
Using larger, bolder heading text can guide readers to the information they seek and visually enhance a webpage. Keep in mind that visually impaired visitors may use a screen reader to “scan” your page by jumping from heading to heading, so making headings helpful and informative is always important.
Learn more about best practices when writing headings.
Text Color and Proper Contrast
You might be tempted add brightly colored text to your page thinking it will capture your reader’s attention. That might be the case from some readers, but if the contrast between the text color and the background is low, you could make the text inaccessible to a percentage of your audience. All the standard colors in our templates are designed to exceed minimum contrast ratios. Don’t alter the color of the text on your page unless you’re working with a designer who can confirm that the color is accessible.
Learn more about text color and color contrast guidelines.