Web Standards and Accessibility

A Lancaster University Resource for Students and Staff Lancaster University home page


This page lists some essential guidelines. If you implement them on your webpages, they should be accessible and standards compliant.

Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)

The WAI has produced 10 Quick Tips. Adherence to these rules will help your webpages reach Checkpoint 1. The points below are explained in further detail at: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fss/resources/access/tips

1. Images and Animations

Make sure each image has an <alt> attribute to describe its function. This appears as a yellow flag description. Users who switch off the images will be able to see what is important.

2. Image Maps

Best to avoid as can provide access problems. Provide text alternatives for disabled users. Use client-side MAP and text for hotspots.

3. Multimedia

Provide captioning and transcripts of audio, and descriptions of video.

4. Hypertext links

Use text that makes sense when read out of context. For example, avoid "click here". People expect links to be blue and underlined.

5. Page organisation

Use headings, lists, and consistent structure. Use CSS for layout and style where possible.

6. Graphs & charts

Summarise or use the longdesc attribute.

7. Scripts, applets & plug-ins

Provide alternative content in case active features are inaccessible or unsupported.

8. Frames

Use NOFRAMES and meaningful titles.

9. Tables

Make line-by-line reading sensible. Summarize. Data tables should have the headings marked.

10. Check your work

Validate. Use tools, checklist and guidelines at http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG


Other Rules (Some "do's and don'ts")

1. Doctype statement

Always include a doctype statement. It must be present on every page of the website. Make sure you are aware of the deprecated elements and attributes and use the W3C's on-line validator to check your pages.

2. Define the natural language

Define the natural language as English to assist screen readers by altering the <HTML> tag as shown:
<HTML Lang="en">

Show any subsequent language changes.

3. Define scripts

Define scripts correctly e.g.

<script type="text/JavaScript">

4. Deprecated HTML code

Avoid the use of deprecated code. See "Further information" link. Use Style Sheets for formatting text, adding colour to the page and alignment of elements. Contact web support staff for assistance.

5. Drop-down menus

Avoid the use of drop-down menus that use JavaScript. Disabled users can't tab to them. Also, they can fail badly if the user tries to alter the style sheet or customise the browser. Contact web support staff for assistance with alternative strategies.

6. New browser windows

Avoid opening new browser windows unless essential. This breaks the browser back button making it harder for disabled users to navigate backwards. Warn your users if a new window is going to open. Contact web support staff for assistance.