Features and Principles of Accessibility

Basic Features

The process of improving accessibility can be overwhelming, but there are small steps every instructor, staff member and student can learn to get started. Using these features in documents and web materials will help improve the experience of those using adaptive technology.

Structured Documents
  • Headings

    • Allows documents to be accessible to screen readers

    • Improves ability of document to be scanned and maintained

    • Utilize the styles provided in Word or Docs to differentiate headings

  • Paragraphs

    • Organize text into chunks

  • Bulleted lists

    • Notate key points while breaking up long text

  • Numbered lists

    • Show steps in a process or sequencing

Color and Contrast
  • Provide sufficient contrast between foreground text color and background color
  • Don’t use color alone for emphasis, use at least two indicators
  • Use a color contrast checker to ensure proper contrast ratio
  • Embed hyperlinks in text
  • Make them clear, concise and meaningful out of context
Text Alternatives
  • Captions for video, transcripts for audio, alt tags for images
  • Should be included with all multimedia content
  • Helps ensure the intended purpose of the content is correctly communicated
  • Describes content of images, videos, graphs and charts
  • Use empty alt tags for decorative images

Key Principles

As defined by WCAG 2.0, there are four key principles web content should abide by to maintain accessibility. Following the guidelines listed within this site, and using the Basic Features will help ensure these principles are met.


Content and the user interface must be easily perceived by users

  • Alt text
  • Captions
  • Transcripts
  • Tab order
  • Contrast
  • Heading
  • Visual characteristics

Navigation and the user interface must be operable in a variety of ways

  • Keyboard
  • Visual focus indicator
  • Automatic scroll pause
  • Adapt time limits
  • Efficient navigation
  • Search capabilities

Content must be easily understandable to the broadest audience possible

  • Readable content and information
  • Predictable behavior
  • Consistent navigation
  • Form validation
  • Error identification

Content must be reliably interpreted by a wide variety of browsers and user agents, including assistive technology

  • Valid code
  • ARIA markup

Making accessible courses

Review our guidelines for how to make your courses more easily accessible.

Accessible Teaching Tools