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Designing for Accessibility

Tips, tricks for Universal Design, Design for All

Web Accessibility for Designers infographic with link to text version at

From WebAIM's Resources for Designers


Write clearly

  • Keep it short. Use the simplest language appropriate for your content
  • Use illustrations, icons, etc. to supplement text.
  • Check spelling, grammar, and readability.
  • Be careful with abbreviations, jargon, complex language, or anything that might confuse the reader.

Structure your content instead of styling your content

  • Use true heading styles <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc. to organize the elements on the page
    • Do not skip levels between heading styles
    • The headings will outline the content on the page, making it easier to navigate with screen readers and mouse-less interfaces
    • Can get to desired content more quickly
  • Use true bullets <ul> and numbers <ol> for lists
  • Do not rely upon font changes in color, size, boldness, to indicate a new section
  • Do not rely upon spaces or tabs to place content

Think about users with visual impairments

  • Use strong contrast between text and background colors
  • Do not use color alone to convey meaning
  • Do not use descriptions that rely on sight (such as "click on the left square")

Ensure links are descriptive

  • Avoid phrases such as
    Click here to access MyOtis
  • Use active phrases such as
    Sign in to MyOtis
  • Do not list URLs as links

Provide alternate text for images, video, audio, and tables

  • Audio files must have a transcript or text equivalent readily available
  • Video files must have closed captions and/or transcripts
  • Provide transcripts of dialog in comics and other complex images
  • Use alt tags to describe what's important about this image in relation to the other content on the page
    • Describe the image in context ; will the alt text make sense when read aloud
    • Put a period at the end of alt tag; it makes screen readers pause
  • For purely decorative images, use <img alt="">; screen readers will skip it
  • Transcribe text for screenshots, including tweets and other social media
  • For data tables, use table, row, and column headings

Adapted from Creating Accessible Electronic Content

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