Guidance for Creating Content with an Accessibility Mindset on the University of Maine System Website

The University of Maine System website follows the Associated Press Online Stylebook (External Site) is required to follow the WCAG 2.1 AA web accessibility standards (External Site) due to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Resolution. Because of the OCR Resolution, a priority for the website is all content prioritizes accessible web content, which requires both consistency and accuracy. Please keep the guidance below in mind while writing content for your website.

Click here to read definitions of accessibility terms. 

The accessibility mindset

While much of what is covered in these accessibility guidelines are rules to follow to ensure that content on your subsite is accessible, there are also concepts in accessibility work that might be considered having an “accessibility mindset.” Most of this mindset can be developed by following the publishing checklist and understanding accessibility terms, there are a few mindset ideals below that can help keep you in the accessibility mindset below.

Further reading: Publishing checklist, accessibility terms, WCAG 2.1

Pervasive content style

Users expect that the entire website they are using will be the same when they visit more than one area of a website (when they click from one page to another). By following the style guide and accessibility guidelines, you are ensuring that a user who uses the Students subsite will have the same experience when they use the Human Resources subsite. This helps users of all abilities, but especially those using assistive technology so that they do not have to adapt from one area of the website to another while looking for information.

Further reading: Headings, publishing checklist, punctuation, word usage

Accessibility equals usability

You read that right. Accessibility best practices will ensure that your website is usable for all users, regardless of ability. If a website is not accessible, it really cannot be considered usable. All users want to be able to find the answers they need, when they need them.

Further reading: Accessibility terms, writing for the web, color contrast ratios

Multiple paths to find content

It is beneficial to your content to make it “findable” in more than one place. When content is findable in more than one place then you are ensuring that all users, regardless of ability, are able to navigate your website better. This is especially important for users seeking out key information, such as deadline dates, forms or other time-sensitive information. This means that users should be able to find the link to a web page with important information on more than one other web page. Links to pages can be made findable by listing links on more than one page, looking for ways to add links to text or by adding important links to quick links or other menus.

Further reading: Hyperlinks, Search Engine Optimization

Clarity reigns supreme

Users of all walks of life and all abilities want to understand what you have written the first time that they read or hear it. Strive to write all content on your website in plain language and in an active voice.

Further reading: Web writing, data, PDFs, punctuation, word usage

All pieces of content should be perceivable in more than one way

Images being labeled with alt text, color contrast ratios meeting minimum requirements, transcripts of videos and font size minimum requirements are all examples of content being perceivable so that users of varying ability are able to see, read or hear the content you have created on your website. Strive to ensure that every piece of content is perceivable on your website in more than one way.

Further reading: Color contrast ratios, alt text, images, video, data