What is Accessibility?

Accessibility is the degree to which something is made available to a person. Often when speaking about accessibility, the focus is on making equal access for people with mental or physical impairments.

Designing and developing websites with accessibility in mind can lead to solutions that are more usable for everyone.

Everyone who edits a Texas A&M website should take a course on web accessibility, such as SiteImprove’s Accessibility Fundamentals for the Web.

Learn more about web accessibility

Accessibility Requirements

Texas A&M is a public university, and our content must be accessible to visitors using assistive technologies. The university strives be in compliance with Section 508 standards for web-based intranet and internet information and applications.

Review Web Accessibility Standards

Key Public Entry Point (KPEP) websites must include required links and approved link text. The links should be present on each page of the site (e.g., in the footer).

See Texas A&M KPEP websites

Best Practices

University websites must adhere to the following web coding best practices:

  • Use good semantic HTML to structure webpages
  • Consistently use alt text for images
  • Caption all videos
  • Use tables for data presentation only
  • Do not use images or colors as sole conveyors of information

Accessibility and Colors

An important design consideration for accessible content is color contrast. This is especially important for text color contrast to its background color.

Check color contrast using the Web AIM Contrast Checker. It is also recommended to check your colors using a color blind simulator to ensure people with color blindness can still perceive your content.

Using Text and Images on the Web

There are many important considerations for creating accessible web content. Here are a few of the most common issues.

Don’t Use Images of Text

All written content on a website should be rendered as text — not embedded as an image or graphic.

  • Text in an image cannot reflow or resize to be legible on small screens
  • Images of text (JPGs, PNGs, etc.) cannot be enlarged without becoming blurry
  • Screen readers cannot read content inside of an image and rely on the alt text, which is read as one run-on sentence

Avoid using images of text, especially in the form of images of flyers or posters with lots of information. Exceptions can be made for images of logos, charts and graphs when paired with equivalent alt text.

Always Provide Alt Text for Images

All non-text content must have a text alternative, commonly called “alt text.” Alt text should be brief (about 125 characters) and accurately describe what you visually see in the image. To make your alt text as helpful as possible:

  • Don’t use phrases such as “image of” or “graphic of”
  • Don’t be redundant or provide the same information that is presented elsewhere on the page
  • Do describe the image in a way that communicates the reason the image is included on the page
Learn more about alt text

Write Accessible Link Text

Words that are hyperlinked in a sentence, button or elsewhere should reveal where a user will go if they click on the link without having to read surrounding text. For example, links that say “click here,” “this link,” etc. are not accessible. Instead, link words that tell the user what to expect if they click it: “Open the Freshmen Application,” “View the 2024 Course Catalog,” etc.

Learn more about accessible link text

Measuring Accessibility with SiteImprove

Texas A&M uses SiteImprove to measure and track accessibility compliance on university websites. You can use SiteImprove on your development websites to identify and remediate any issues before publishing your website. After launching, you can use SiteImprove on your production site to monitor for new issues, such as heading order or images without alt text.

SiteImprove can also be used to maintain quality assurance on your website by automatically flagging misspellings and broken links.

Email web@tamu.edu to request a site be added to SiteImprove. You will need to provide the full URL and the names and emails of any Texas A&M employees who need access to this site in SiteImprove.