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Basic Web Accessibility. Nick Ogrizovich Universal Design Technology Lab. Roadmap for today. Accessibility- basics. Legal Basics. POUR. Headings- Structured Formats. ALT text. PDF Accessibility. Captioned Videos. Testing/Validation. Conclusion. What really prompted the web?.

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Basic Web Accessibility

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Basic Web Accessibility

Nick OgrizovichUniversal Design Technology Lab

Roadmap for today

Accessibility- basics

Legal Basics


Headings- Structured Formats

ALT text

PDF Accessibility

Captioned Videos



What really prompted the web?

  • “The power of the Web is in its universality.Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web

Legal Basics

The Very Basics

  • Web Accessibility in a nutshell

  • Basics laws that govern accessibility the US

What is Section 508?

  • Federal law

  • Part of Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended in 1998

  • Section 508 standards added in 2001

    • Previously was a guideline; standards carry the weight of law.

  • Applies to federal government

Section 508

  • Applies to electronic and information technology (E&IT)

  • Includes Web access/development and software development

  • At its heart, Section 508 is procurement law.

The 508 Philosophy

  • Section 508 is about creating an open door.

  • Section 508 uses the purchasing power of the government to induce vendors to create accessible products.

  • The overall goal of Section 508 is a more accessible society.


  • States are not part of the federal government.

  • Our college is not part of the federal government.

State Laws

  • All 50 states have laws on Web access

  • 23 states have statutes, policies, regulations, or guidelines regarding procurement


  • Some states have requirements that carry the weight of law; others are guidelines.

  • Georgia Tech has listing of state laws

  • VT: We have some loosely worded “Policies” and pretty much only for “state websites”

POUR Guidelines

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

  • Provides an international set of guidelines

    • Developed by the Worldwide Web Consortium

  • Basis of most web accessibility laws in the world.

    • Version 2.0 of these guidelines, published in December 2008, are based on four principles:

    • Perceivable

    • Operable

    • Understandable

    • Robust


  • Available to the senses (vision and hearing primarily)

    • Through the browser

    • Through assistive technologies (e.g. screen readers, screen enlargers)


  • Users can interact with all controls and interactive elements using either the mouse, keyboard, or an assistive device.


  • Content is clear and limits confusion and ambiguity.


  • A wide range of technologies (including old and new user agents and assistive technologies) can access the content.

The goal of providing accessible written content can be accomplished by being a POUR writer.

Are you a POUR writer?

  • Understandable:

    “Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.

    “This means that users must be able to understand the information as well as the operation of the user interface (the content or operation cannot be beyond their understanding).”

What is plain language and how can it help fulfill the WCAG 2.0 “Understandable” requirement?

Plain languageis …

  • Plain language is writing that can be understood the first time people read or hear it.

  • … easy to read

  • … understandable

  • … usable

Why is a lot of web content bad?

The approach is wrong

  • The wrong people write web content.

  • The institution or “powers that be” dictate what content goes on the organization’s website.

    • Or actually, “go create a webpage for __topic__ , now!

  • People write content without considering their audience.

Writers forget to consider …

  • People scan content (they don’t read it).

  • It’s hard to read large blocks of text. (TLDR)

  • There are people with low literacy skills.

  • Some people have low language proficiency.

  • Some people have cognitive impairments.

  • Some people are dyslexic.


Ensure links make sense out of context

  • Every link should make sense if the link text is read by itself.

  • Screen reader users may choose to read only the links on a web page.

  • Certain phrases like "click here" and "more" must be avoided. Try “…for more information on UVM Hockey..”

  • Search engines use incoming link text to determine what a page is about.

Headings & Structure

Use headings properly

  • Headings communicate document structure.

  • They help screen reader users, search engines, and more.

  • Headings should form an outline of the page (H1 = the main page heading, H2 = secondary headings, etc.)

  • Nearly all document authoring tools supporting headings at various levels

Adding headings in CK Editor

Adding headings in HTML

<h1>This is the main heading</h1>

<h2>This is a secondary heading</h2>

<h2>This is another secondary heading</h2>

DON’T: Use <h1> after using <h2>, <h3> etc. Headings are not visual formatting tools in html.

Adding headings in Word

Adding headings in Adobe Acrobat

Alternate (ALT) Text

Alt Text

Add proper alt text to images

  • People who can’t see images depend on alternate text versions of image content

  • Almost every document authoring tool supports alt text. Right click on the image to access Image Properties or equivalent, then enter a brief description.

  • Keep alt text short and sweet.

Adding alt text in Dreamweaver

Adding alt text in HTML

<imgsrc=“uvmlogo.gif” alt=“uvm logo”>

Adding alt text in Word

Adding alt text in Adobe Acrobat

Accessible PDF’s

3. Create accessible PDFs

  • Not all PDFs are equal:

    • Image PDFs

    • PDFs with text, but no structure

    • Tagged PDF (the only accessible type)

  • Can create an accessible PDF from scratch

    • Using a tool that supports tagged PDF (e.g., Word)

    • Save as tagged PDF

  • Can fix an inaccessible PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro

Fixing a PDF in Acrobat Pro

  • Convert to text (if needed)

  • Add tags to document (if needed)

  • Touch up reading order, add alt text to images

  • Check/correct headings and other tags

  • Create links from URLs (if needed)

  • Define document language

  • Run an accessibility check

More on PDF Accessibility


  • Includes workflows for:

    • Making a PDF accessible from scratch

    • Exporting from Word to tagged PDF

    • Repairing an inaccessible PDF using Acrobat Pro

    • Repairing inaccessible PDF forms using Acrobat Pro

    • Creating accessible PDF forms using Acrobat Pro

    • Creating accessible PDF forms using LiveCycle Designer

  • Also includes additional resources

Know when to use PDF

PDF is great for documents where:

  • Appearance is critical. Document must be the same across all platforms.

  • Security is critical. Document requires encryption, digital signatures, watermarks, etc.

For many documents, HTML or Word may be a better choice

Captioned Videos

Caption videos

  • Captioned video is accessible to people who can’t hear it

  • Captions make video full-text searchable (YouTube)

  • Captions can be automatically translated to other languages during playback (YouTube)

  • Captions can be used to generate an interactive transcript (YouTube)

Example YouTube Video with Captions

Provide a transcript

  • Benefits individuals who are deaf-blind (easier to read than captions with a Braille device)

  • Benefits individuals with low Internet bandwidth (who can’t play the media)

  • Benefits all users by allowing them to access content quickly

  • Benefits Google, who indexes the content and ranks them in results

Who can use this service?

  • Anyone Within The University using Audio/Visual material for University purposes.

  • How does one make a Captioning request?

  • Follow the link ‘Captioning Request Form’ at

  • Simply click on the link below the ‘faculty’ section, provide the information required, submit the form and await our reply!

  • For more information, contact Steven Airoldi (

In closing

  • By addressing these basic principles, you will ensure greater accessibility of your web content to everyone.


Resources – General

  • Section 508, Accessible IT:

  • Georgia Tech Research Institute, State IT Database: Vermont:

  • University of Vermont ASPtech Accessibility Guidelines:

  • Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C):

Resources - POUR

  • WCAG 2.0 Principles of Accessibility:

  • Constructing a POUR Website:

Resources - Plain Language

  • Plain Language Checklist:

  • Comprehensive Plain Language Guidelines:

  • Test Your Content (methods):

  • Center for Plain Language:


  • Plain Language Association International:

Resources - Writing Content

  • Content and Usability: Web Writing:

Resources - Great Alt Text

  • W3C Techniques for providing useful text alternatives:

  • NCAM Effective practices for describing science content:

  • Description of good alt text:

  • University of Vermont ASPtech Alt Text Guide:

Resources – PDF Accessibility

  • Adobe PDF Accessibility:

  • California State PDF Tutorials:

  • University of Vermont ASPtech PDF Accessibility Guide:

  • University of Washington, PDF Accessibility:

  • WebAIMPDF Accessibility:

Resources - Testing Accessibility

  • WAVE:

  • HiSoftware® Cynthia Says™:

  • FAE:


  • Nick Ogrizovich –

  • Nick Hall –

  • ASP Tech –

  • Captioning –

  • Universal Design Technology Lab telephone: (802) 656-5537

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