Basic Principles of Web Accessibility

Basic Principles of Web Accessibility

With reference to MSU's Accessibility guidelines, web pages must do the following to provide equal access to information, materials, programs and services for all users regardless of ability:

  • Establish eligibility criteria for technology and Web-based services or participation in programs and activities that will not screen out or tend to screen out qualified individuals with disabilities, unless such limitations are necessary to meet the essential objectives of the program.
  • Supply the same or equally effective benefits, services and programs for all users of the Web-based environment.
  • Use electronic and information technologies that allow all Web users to have comparable access to and use of information and data.
  • Provide all members of the public seeking information or services the same access to and use of information and data.
  • Provide alternative programs and services of the World Wide Web for qualified individuals with disabilities only where the alternatives are necessary to make the programs and services equally as effective as those provided to other users.

Images & Web Accessibility

If an image is... ALT text should...
Chart or illustration Summarize and explain
Photograph or art work Describe an image's content
Graphic or button with text Be the same as the image's text
Functional icon with text Describe the action to be taken
Background or other decoration Contain an empty space (" ")

General Information on Web Accessibility

The following mark characteristics of a site in aims of being accessible to a wide range of users:

  • Content is understandable without the use of color
  • Page content is read in the correct order without style sheets
  • There are no flickering images in the site
  • An alternative text-only page is provided if the web page cannot be made accessible
  • A "Skip to Main Content" link is provided at the top of each web page
  • Users are notified of and can delay an impending timeout
  • Changes in content language are indicated by HTML code
  • Alternative (static) content is updated when dynamic content changes
  • Clear and simple language is used throughout the site
  • Rows and column headers are identified in data tables
  • Frames have meaningful titles
  • Forms work properly and can be completed successfully using assistive technology
  • Java, JavaScript and other active features work with assistive technology
  • Links are provided to download plug-ins or applets if they are required to use the site
  • Client-side image maps have alt attributes
Web accessibility tools are used by developers to help determine if a website meets accessibility standards. Often times, these tools are software programs or online services that can be used free of charge. While these tools save time and effort when evaluating a site, keep in mind that no tool can automatically determine the accessibility of websites.

Resources for Checking and Testing Web Accessibility

Checkmark Icon WAVE
WAVE is a free web accessibility evaluation tool. Simply copy the URL of the site you would like to evaluate into a field and click a button to evaluate your website!
Checkmark Icon Functional Accessibility Evaluator (FAE)
FAE is hosted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. FAE is an evaluation form used to assess the functional accessibility of a single web page.
Checkmark Icon Web Accessibility Toolbar for Internet Explorer
WAT, the Web Accessibility Toolbar, can be used for manual examination of web pages for different aspects of web accessibility.
Checkmark Icon W3C Markup Validation Service
W3C validates markup (HTML, XHTML, ...) of web documents. Validations can be completed by URL, File Upload, or by Direct Input.
Checkmark Icon Firefox Web Developer Toolbar
The Web Developer Toolbar provides and easy method for website users and developers to validates pages for: WAI, Section 508, (X)HTML and CSS markup

To learn more about web accessibility and how to ensure your website complies with standards, visit MSU's Web Accessibility website.