Content Accessibility

As a state institution we are required to comply with the Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act (IITAA), The Rehabilitation Act sections 504 and 508 and the AA-level of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, which require Illinois agencies and universities to ensure that their websites, information systems and information technologies are accessible to people with disabilities, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act. Individuals responsible for web pages within their area should review the requirements on a regular basis. 

Make Your Web Pages Accessible

The Level 1, Phase 2 training for maintaining websites includes a tutorial on web accessibility. We recommend viewing this course, even if you are not completing web training, as an understanding of accessibility is beneficial to content providers and web managers alike.

Some basic principles to follow include:

  • Use headings to provide page structure and give an importance-level to text.
    • Start every page with Heading 2 tag (If you use the designated Main Heading field, this is your Heading 2 and it shouldn't be used again).
    • Subsequent headings should be Heading 3, Heading 4, etc.
    • Headings must be nested hierarchically. Do not use a Heading 4 outside of a Heading 3.
    • Do not bold or emphasize paragraph text to create headings—use heading formatting.
    • Do not use heading formatting for text that does not head a section of content (a.k.a. for aesthetic purpose only - CSS can be used for this, instead).
  • Make links understandable out of context. Avoid using "click here" language. Instead, hyperlinked words should be the contextual words describing where the link will go.
  • Don't underline text. Underlined words give the visual impression that they are links.
  • Include alternative text with images that are not simply descriptive. For images that are descriptive, provide a null alternative text (alt="") in HTML or check the box labelled "Decorative Image" in Cascade CMS.
  • Any information conveyed by multi-media must also be conveyed in text (i.e., all videos must be closed-captioned and sound recordings should provide transcripts).
  • Use unordered lists, not paragraphs, for a list of items. Use ordered (numbered) lists for sequential information, such as step-by-step instructions.

Make Your Web Content (non-HTML) Accessible

Effective January of 2018, the Section 508 refresh requires all web content, including PDFs linked from web pages, to be accessible. PDFs (Portable Document Format) are often created from a Microsoft Word document. Simple principles to follow when creating documents include:

  • using designated headings and styles for formatting rather than changing fonts and sizes manually
  • using a simple color scheme with high contrast, avoiding bright or light shades
  • not using color as meaninful formatting (Quick check: ask yourself if a person with limited vision or inability to differentiate colors would be able to understand the content the same as a fully-sighted person)
  • ensuring that document is fully comprised of recognizable text, not in image format. Scanned images of pages are not accessible. (Quick check: can you highlight individual chunks of text with your cursor?)

Acessibility Resources for Other Web Content