As of August 2018 all newly created, newly published, or recently edited websites, webpage content, documents (e.g., text files and PDFs), and multimedia (e.g., video and audio) must be digitially accessible.

Common Accessibility Content Categories

When reviewing your pages for accessibility, you should start by checking your headings, graphics, links, and video content because they span across all different types of digital media, not just webpages. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of all digital accessibility requirements.

Create Accessible Headings

  • Use headings to organize long blocks of content
  • Use headings in a logical order
  • Do not skip heading levels
  • Do not use headings for formatting purposes
  • Do not add unnecessary headings

Why it's important:

Headings provide semantic structure to your page that help screen readers navigate your content and improve your page's scannability.

How to fix it:

If you're not sure how and when to apply headings, try creating a bulleted outline of your content first. Use your page title as the first bullet and then add your subtopics as nested bullets. You'll start to notice how your content topics may, or may not, relate to each other.

When you apply the heading format to your text, remember to never skip levels! Your page title is considered an H1 heading, which means your first heading level should always be an H2 heading. Here is an example of how that may look:

  • H1 Heading: Page title
    • H2 Heading: Main topic
      • H3 Heading: Subtopic
      • H3 Heading: Subtopic
        • H4 Heading: Sub-subtopic
        • H4 Heading: Sub-subtopic
    • H2 Heading: Main topic

Be sure to remove the heading formatting in cases where it's applied to a paragraph of text or a section of text for aesthetic purposes. If the goal is to call attention to text, consider using the call out text style or the blockquote formatting.

This is an example of a section of text that has the callout text style applied to it. Notice how the font is different from the rest of the page content—it even has a accent line to the left of the text in NYU violet.

Use Accessible Graphics

  • Do not use images of text
  • Alternative text (Alt Text) should be useful and accurate
  • Images should not be used as a button or promo link
  • Graphics should not contain poorly contrasting colors

Why it's important:

While images and graphics can enhance a user's comprehension of content, they can also be a significant barrier when used without proper alternative (alt) text, color contrast, or other accessibility considerations.

How to fix it:

Always ask yourself if an image adds value to your content before adding it to your page. For example, if your page is about bikeshare benefits then a picture of the Washington Square Arch wouldn't add any value, but a picture of people riding bikes might (especially if they're real members of the NYU community). Decorative images usually don't add value, so use those very sparingly.

Every image must have useful alt text descriptions. When writing alt text, consider why you're using that particular image. Alt text should be brief, so try to keep it under 140 characters. Decorative images can be marked null by adding a space in the alt text field.

Be sure to remove images of text from your pages. Consider using headings, Basic Promos, Button Promos, or Factoid Promos instead.

If you're creating your own graphic make sure it has sufficient color contrast (4.5:1 or higher) and color isn't used to convey meaning. Not sure how to check contrast? Use the Colour Contrast Analyser from the Paciello Group.

Infographics are visual representations of data like pie charts, bar graphs, and scatterplots. If you have to include an infographic make sure to also include a full text description within the main body of the text or expandable and note in the alt text where users can find that description. Infographics should not include a title (add that using rich text!) and should use colors with a 4.5:1 contrast ratio.

Create Accessible Links

  • Do not duplicate links across the page
  • Make sure that links are inaccurately labeled
  • Do not link too much text
  • Do not link too little text
  • Make sure that linked text is unique

Why it's important:

Screen readers are unable to provide context to a link beyond the linked text — which means multiple "click here" links on a page all appear to be the same. Well written link text also improves page scannability for screen readers, who may tab through multiple links, and sighted users alike.

How to fix it:

Remove uninformative link phrases. Some phrases to avoid include:

  • click here
  • here
  • more
  • read more
  • link to [some link destination]
  • info

You can also skip the phrase "click here" even if it preceeds more meaningful link text. For example, you don't need to write "click here to read more about bikeshare benefits" and can instead just link the phrase "bikeshare benefits" without losing meaning.

If you're linking to digital assets, include the file type and size. For example, if you're linking to a PDF file your link text may read:

bikeshare registration form (PDF: 2 MB)

Update links with too much text. Screen readers read all linked text, so avoid linking an entire paragraph of text and instead just link the phrase that best informs users where the link goes.

Create Accessible Videos

  • Video with spoken words must be captioned
  • Video captions must be accurate

Why it's important:

Imagine watching a movie without the audio, or listening to dialogue without watching the action on the screen; it would be difficult to understand the full context of the movie. If your page includes video content, it's essential to provide captions, transcripts, and/or audio descriptions to ensure all users are able to understand your video’s message.

How to fix it:

Add synchronized captions for videos with spoken word. If your videos don't contain captions, they either need to be removed from your page or updated to include accurate captions. We recommend users host their videos on YouTube or NYU Stream, which both have automatic captioning services and tools to easily edit inaccurate captions.

Don’t forget to check and edit all captions for accuracy. The Described and Captioned Media Program has a helpful captioning key you can use as a reference when reviewing and editing captions.

Provide audio descriptions to describe visual content not conveyed in the audio track. Audio description and captioning are not always used together. If there is visual content that is not adequately described by the audio, then you should add an audio description.


Note: CMS users that fail to comply with NYU's digital accessibility policy risk losing access.