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This Quick Accessibility Checklist is meant to help faculty and staff who want to develop or modify Web-based course material, lectures, and assignments in an accessible way.

Note: Most recommendations can be implemented in Microsoft Office, Canvas, Word Press/Sites at Penn State as well as Web pages.

Text Elements

  1. Use semantic headings to divide long documents into navigable sections.
  2. Ensure that link text indicates specific destinations (i.e. avoid "click here" links).
  3. For lists (numbered and with bullets), make sure to use the bullet tools to create them. If a numbered list (e.g. an outline) has multiple levels, make sure each level uses a different numbering scheme.
  4. Use color schemes in PowerPoint and Web pages with sufficient color contrast.
  5. Make sure font face and size conform to recommended legibility standards.
  6. If you use data tables, be sure to label the table and columns and avoid merging cells.
  7. Provide alternatives for PDFs such as Word, HTML or text. PDFs can be made accessible, but the process is very complex, so it is often quicker to provide content in an alternative form.
  8. Ensure that non-English content is properly tagged.

Multimedia Elements

  1. Use image ALT Text to quickly describe images for those who cannot see it.
  2. For complex images such as a chart, map or other diagrams, ALT text can be supplemented by extended text descriptions. Charts should also be designed to be understandable in black and white.
  3. For math equations, follow guidelines for creating MathML compatible formats for math equations.
  4. If your content includes an animation, make sure that it’s necessary for the content and that the flicker rate is lower than 2 Hz (Hertz) and greater than 55 Hz – animations within these frequencies may trigger epileptic seizures.
  5. Avoid autoplay for videos and animations over five seconds. Moving content can be disorienting for users with certain types of cognitive disorders.
  6. Video and audio files should be captioned/transcribed for those who cannot hear the content.
  7. If you want to upload a PowerPoint file, then make sure the color scheme has suffienct contrast, all graphics are labeled and all audio is transcribed.

Web Tools

  1. Follow recommended guidelines for Canvas including creating content with the Rich Content Editor, providing accessible video and documents and providing appropriate time extensions for students needing accommodation.
  2. See the Software link for accessibility recommendations relating to other tools such as Sites at Penn State, VoiceThread, Adobe Connect and others.
  3. When using dropdown/floating menus, provide a text-based navigation as well. Many users on a screenreader or who have motion disorders may find floating menus problematic. Dropdown menus can also be problematic for people with some cognitive disorders.


  1. All HTML pages should have a unique title.
  2. Use headings, distinct link text and ARIA landmarks to facilitate navigation on a screen reader.
  3. For data tables, use table captions and table headers to increase screen reader usability.
  4. Hover/rollover effects that work with a mouse should also work with keyboard focus.
  5. Ensure that reading order is the same with CSS styles disabled.
  6. Follow guidelines for creating legible content including sufficient color contrast.
  7. Avoid using color contrast alone in presenting content. Color contrast can be used with other indicators.
  8. Use skip navigation strategies to ensure that users on a keyboard (including those on a screen reader) can skip repetitive navigation.
  9. Make sure online forms comply with accessibility standards including use of labels for different fields and accessible error messages.
  10. When using frames and iframes, use the TITLE attribute to indicate the name of the frame.
  11. Use tools to enhance the creation MathML equations for STEM content.
  12. See complete set of recommendations at the HTML Guide.

Advanced Web Design

  1. Ensure that all functionality available on a mouse is available on a keyboard.
  2. If your interface includes updated information (e.g. confirmation/error messages), make sure they are read on a screen reader. ARIA techniques are especially helpful in this case.
  3. For redirects or timed actions (such as clicking OK to continue being logged in), be sure to provide adequate response time for users of screen readers or users with mobility impairments. In some cases, a redirect should be replaced with a static page containing a link.
  4. New popup windows or lightboxes need to be checked for screen reader and keyboard accessibility.
  5. When using scripts to generate Web content, be sure all HTML chunks include appropriate accessibility features.

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