Accessible Content

Style

  • Use style sheets to control layout and presentation.
  • Mark up lists and list items properly.
    • Ordered lists help non-visual users navigate. Non-visual users may "get lost" in lists, especially in nested lists and those that do not indicate the specific nest level for each list item. Until user agents provide a means to identify list context clearly (e.g., by supporting the ':before' pseudo-element in CSS2), content developers should include contextual clues in their lists.
    • For numbered lists, compound numbers are more informative than simple numbers. Thus, a list numbered "1, 1.1, 1.2, 1.2.1, 1.3, 2, 2.1," provides more context than the same list without compound numbers.
  • Create a style of presentation that is consistent across pages.

Language

  • Use the clearest and simplest language appropriate for a site's content.
  • Strive for clear and accurate headings and link descriptions.
    • This includes using link phrases that are brief and that make sense when read out of context or as part of a series of links (Some users browse by jumping from link to link and listening only to link text.) Use informative headings so that users can scan a page quickly for information rather than reading it in detail.
  • Place distinguishing information at the beginning of headings, paragraphs, lists, ect.
    • This is commonly referred to as "front-loading." This will help both people who are skimming visually, but also people who use speech synthesizers. "Skimming" with speech currently means that the user jumps from heading to heading, or paragraph to paragraph and listens to just enough words to determine whether the current chunk of information (heading, paragraph, link, etc.) interests them.
  • Limit each paragraph to one main idea.
  • Avoid slang, jargon, and specialized meanings of familiar words, unless defined within your document.
  • Favour words that are commonly used.
  • Use active rather than passive verbs. For example: “The government passed new legislation to increase welfare,” rather than, “A new law was passed to increase welfare.”
  • Avoid complex sentence structures.
  • Specify the expansion of each abbreviation or acronym in a document where it first occurs.

Links

  • Clearly identify the target of each link.
    • Good link text should not be overly general. Authors should avoid non-informative link phrases such as:
      • click here
      • here
      • more
      • read more
      • link to [some link destination]
  • Links are more useful when they make sense out of context. In fact, the phrase "click here" is unnecessary, even if it precedes a more meaningful phrase. For example, a link that says "click here to access information on welfare" can be shortened to "information on welfare." In some cases it may make sense to precede a link phrase with "more" or "read more about," (e.g. "more about the upcoming election"). The link text should indicate the nature of the link target.
  • If more than one link on a page shares the same link text, all those links should point to the same resource. Such consistency will help page design as well as accessibility.
  • For a series of related links, include introductory information in the first link, then distinguishing information in the links that follow.
    • This will help people who are blind, have difficulty seeing, or who are using devices with small or no displays -- and are unable to scan the page quickly with their eyes. To get an overview of a page or to quickly find a link, these users will often tab from one link to the next or review a list of available links on a page. So this will provide context information for users reading them in the sequence.
  • Until assistive technologies render adjacent links distinctly, make sure there are spaces between adjacent links.
  • Provide information so that users may receive documents according to their preferences (e.g., language, content type, etc.). For example the link "Refer to the French version of this document" links to the French version.