Accessibility Guidelines

Accessibility Guidelines

North Carolina state agencies and organizations need to create accessible websites and digital content. Following these guidelines can help people with disabilities perceive, operate, understand, and fully enjoy content.

Digital Commons aims for the success criteria of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA (WCAG 2.0 AA). The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) develops and maintains these guidelines.

Accessibility Checker

Digital Commons uses the Editoria11y accessibility checker. It runs automatically when you edit content. The checker identifies potential accessibility issues and tells how to correct them.


Authoring Accessible Content: Key Concepts

Website owners should make their content accessible to everyone. That includes users who have visual, auditory, neurological, cognitive, and physical disabilities.

Accessibility tips for content stress writing clearly and concisely. Site owners should also use the formatting toolbar and provide text alternatives.

  • Users skim pages. Like it or not, most users skim pages by the headings and link titles. Being able to understand and navigate a page based on its structure is critically important for people with visual, reading, and attention disabilities.
  • Correct formatting matters. Screen readers navigate content based upon how the text is tagged, not how it looks. Logical heading order and unordered lists are meaningful. Selecting a header out of order because of size preference is not meaningful. 
  • Text alternatives are critical. People who are blind rely on alt text for images and icons. Video and audio captions and transcripts are needed by people who are deaf, hard of hearing, new to a language, or in a place where a device should be muted. 

10 Key Factors: A Checklist for Authoring Accessible Content

  1. Alternative text describes each image's meaning in its context. Avoid using images of text.
  2. Headings are formatted in a logical order (e.g., heading 1, heading 2, heading 3). They are not used just for size preference.
  3. Lists are properly formatted, not only with symbols and numbers.
  4. Meaningful links are self-explanatory even out of context (unlike "click here").
  5. Tables have real header cells, not only background colors. Tables are not used to create layout or fake columns.
  6. Color contrast is strong enough for users with low vision or colorblindness. Color contrast is not used alone to provide meaning.
  7. Sensory characteristics that disappear with changes in layout or color perception are not used. For example, the description "the red items in the right-hand column" may not have meaning for users with visual impairments.
  8. PDFs and other documents, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, are properly structured and tagged. Otherwise, an alternative accessible format is available.
  9. Audio and video have transcripts and captioning.
  10. Identify languages other than English for screen readers. For example, without a language tag, a screen reader pronounces "Español" as "A Spaniel."