web Accessibility

Introduction to Web Accessibility

What is Web Accessibility?

Web Accessibility is the ongoing process of helping Web authors ensure that members of the disabled community are able to gain access to the same electronic information or content as non-disabled individuals. Making Web content accessible is a matter of incorporating basic accessibility features into the overall design process. These features are in this section of the WARC. Many Web authors need to be aware of Web accessibility issues. In addition, technologies such as Flash, PDF, and dynamic sites have created new barriers of entry. For more information, see the WebAIM document Introduction to Web Accessibility for an expanded introduction on Web accessibility.

Why Should I Do This?

Making your Web content accessible allows individuals with disabilities to browse your Web site. Such disabilities include motor, visual, auditory, cognitive deficits and seizure disorders. Making your web content accessible allows this segment of the population to access information on par with non-disabled individuals. For additional information about impairments see the WebAIM document Introduction To Web Accessibility

Web sites must also be made accessible because it's a legal responsibility:

Section 11135 of the California Government Code was amended (Senate Bill 302, Chapter 784, Statutes of 2003) to clarify that Section 508 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act applies to the CSU. Section 508 addresses all aspects of access to information technology, web-based materials, programs and services including guidelines for creating accessible web sites." - Quoted from CSU Executive Order No. 926 - The California State University Policy on Disability Support and Accommodations.

How Do I Get Started?

It is a very simple matter to make your Web content accessible:

  1. Prior to building, redesigning, or enhancing a Web site for the campus, become familiar with the Section 508 Checkpoints for Web accessibility
  2. Next, take a look at the WebAIM Section 508 Web Accessibility Checklist to learn in more detail what each of the accessibility requirements are and how you can implement them.
  3. Then, to learn more about applying specific accessibility requirements, review the tutorial "Universal Web Design" by Susan Stewart of Cal Poly's Student Academic Services.
  4. If you want to know how specific HTML examples are used to meet the standards, you can use the "sample HTML code".
  5. Lastly, test your site for accessibility using tools such as those listed in the below section Testing Your Site.

Training (Accessibility Workshops)

The Accessibility web site offers a number of tutorials on how to creating accessible e-documents such as MS Word, MS PowerPoint, MS Excel, Acrobat PDF, and Flash files.

Tools (authoring)

Here you will find some tools to assist you in making Web media accessible to persons with disabilities. While not a comprehensive list, it provides the basics for getting started. You can find additional references on tools at the Usablenet Web site.

Testing Your Site (Web accessibility checkers)

Manual evaluation process can be performed using the Manual evaluation reference and worksheet along with

  • Firefox extensions
  • and IE toolbars
  • Validators (code and css)

The CSU is currently using HiSoftware tools to run periodic automated tests on Cal Poly sites. HiSoftware tools will be used for automated tests only! Section 508 compliance can NOT be assured through only automated tests and the manual evaluation process must also be used as well.

  • AccVerify - provides a comprehensive interface for testing and repairing content for compliance with Section 508 standards for Accessibility.
  • CynthiaSays - a free service to help Web page authors identify and repair significant barriers to access by individuals with disabilities. It also analyzes Web pages for compatibility with various browsers.
  • JAWS - JAWS is one of the most popular screen reading software applications available today. It provides speech technology that works with your Windows operating system to provide access to software applications and the Internet.
  • LYNX emulator - This service allows Web authors to see what their pages will look like when viewed with Lynx, a text-mode Web browser.

Other Technologies


Adobe Acrobat (PDF)


Validation allows authors to check their HTML syntax. Valid HTML is less likely to cause problems with different browsers and more likely to survive the next browser release

Cascading Style Sheets - CSS



Other Resources