To be accessible, all web content—for websites, social media, emails, applications and more—must be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust for all users—regardless of their ability.

When working on your content, whether you're developing from scratch or simply making copy changes or adding a photo, you need to keep accessibility in mind so that you comply with university standards and federal law. Case Western Reserve University strives to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) AA standards. (This also goes for any third-party vendor whose product or service you may use.)

We've outlined accessibility guidelines here; for more information on each item, view the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1).


These areas ensure that all users can understand content and the user interface of your website or app:

  1. Images have alternative text that describes the image. This includes images with text embedded into them, such as charts.
    Learn how to create proper alternative text.
  2. Video has closed captions, and audio has transcripts.
    Learn more about accessible media.
  3. The overall information, structure and content relationships can be understood by users, screen readers and other assistive devices.
    Learn more about proper page structure.
  4. Assistive devices such as screen readers can access content in the intended reading order.
    Learn more about content sequence.
  5. Sensory cues, such as shape, size, location or sound, are not the only way someone would be able to understand your content (e.g. writing copy such as "the box to the right," which may lack context for many users).
    Learn how to avoid sensory cues.
  6. Users can understand instructions and provide input without having to distinguish color (e.g. highlighting a section in red to show an error without any other notification that an error exists).
    Learn more about color contrast.
  7. Audio volume can be adjusted or muted.
    Learn more about audio control.
  8. Text and other elements can be "scaled up"—or made bigger—without affecting the page's functionality.
    Learn more about content scaling.


We need to make sure all users can operate your site or application's interface and navigation. Some ways in which this is possible:

  1. Keyboards can operate buttons, links, menus and other control interfaces without getting "trapped" in your site or app.
    Learn more about keyboard accessibility.
  2. A visible focus indicator can help a user locate their position on the page.
    Learn more about keyboard focus.
  3. If you have content with time limitations—such as two minutes to complete a form—users must be given adequate time, or the option to turn off, adjust or extend their limit.
    Learn more about adjustable timing.
  4. Users can control content that changes or scrolls automatically, such as slideshows.
    Learn more about automatic content.
  5. Flashing content must be limited to prevent seizures.
    Learn more about flashing content.
  6. Link text should identify the purpose of each link so users know what their next step is (e.g. "Find out more on our about page" as opposed to "Click here.").
    Learn more about purposeful links.
  7. Users who navigate a page sequentially must be able to skip blocks of content.
    Learn more about bypassing content.
  8. Page titles should be descriptive enough to tell the user exactly what they would find on the page.
    Learn more about purposeful titles and labels.
  9. Users have multiple navigation options.
    Learn more about accessible navigation.


Another key aspect of digital accessibility is ensuring all users can the understand information and user interfaces you provide. Here's how:

  1. Screen readers and similar devices can identify the language of each page.
    Learn more about defining language.
  2. Avoid content that automatically triggers actions—especially unexpected ones, such as opening a new window or moving content around.
    Learn more about predictable content behavior.
  3. Each page should have consistent navigation for ease of use.
    Learn more about consistent navigation.
  4. Forms provide easily understood error and verification messages.
    Learn more about input assistance.


Finally, to ensure your site or app is accessible, it must be robust—meaning that a variety of assistive technologies (current and forthcoming) must be able to reliably interpret its structure and functionality. Assistive technologies should be able to:

  1. Understand content type and structure.
  2. Interpret user interfaces and represent functionality to users.

See the Full WCAG 2.1 Guidelines