Accessibility Guidelines

Accessible electronic and information technology works for people using assistive technologies.

Screen readers read the text in a digital document aloud. Because a scan is an image, screen readers cannot read them. Most screen readers help users skim pages with shortcuts for headings, links, form fields and tables. See how to make several types of digital documents accessible at Accessible Digital Materials.

What screen readers need

  • alternative text for images
  • labels for form fields
  • headings created with heading tags, not a paragraph in a larger font
  • tables for data, not layout
  • link names that describe where they go

People who use screen readers may

  • be blind or visually impaired
  • want to hear and read content
  • have a print disability

Videos shown in class or assigned to be viewed outside of class, videos on NIU websites and training videos need to have captions. The Disability Resource Center provides closed captioning services.

Captions are the spoken words in a video as the speaker says them in text on the same screen.

Audio description is a spoken narrative that describes important visual content that isn't conveyed by sound like actions or scene changes.

People who use captions may

  • be deaf or hard of hearing
  • be learning the language in the video
  • need to read content and hear it
  • be in a noisy environment 

People who use audio descriptions may

  • be blind or visually impaired

Information conveyed by color needs to be conveyed in an additional way, like an asterisk, a different texture (on a bar graph) or text.

Look for sufficient contrast between elements so the difference between them is perceivable without color.

Who/What is colorblind?

  • people who are colorblind can't distinguish between some colors, like red and green, or see colors at all
  • screen readers
  • black and white printers

Make targets like buttons and links large enough that they don't require a high level of accuracy to select.

When a mouse hovers over a link or you tab to a link, it should change color or be outlined so it's easy to see where the mouse focus is.

Assistive technology for mobility impairments

  • special trackball instead of a mouse
  • speech recognition software
  • sip and puff system
  • eye tracking system
  • joystick controlled by the mouth or head

A person using a wheelchair should be able to fully operate the technology without assistance.


A person with disabilities is able to independently use electronic and information technology to

  • acquire the same information
  • engage in the same interactions
  • enjoy the same services

in the same time frame as those without disabilities.

More Information