Accessible content

A website is accessible when anyone can access the information contained in it, regardless of physical, economical or technological circumstances. Accessibility refers to removing barriers that prevent access to websites by people with disabilities. Visit W3C section on making the web accessible for further tips.

Your website should be:
1. Perceivable
2. Operable
3. Understandable
4. Robust

Use unique, descriptive page titles

For each web page, provide a short title that describes the page content and distinguishes it from other pages. The page title is often the same as the main heading of the page. Put the unique and most relevant information first; for example, put the name of the page before the name of the organization. For pages that are part of a multi-step process, include the current step in the page title.

Good examples of page titles

  • Undergraduate chemistry degrees
  • Intellectual property of research
  • Payment Card Industry – Data Security Standard

Poor examples of page titles

  • Degrees
  • What is IP?
  • PCI – DSS Policy


Use short headings to group related paragraphs and clearly describe the sections. Good headings provide an outline of the content. Use headings in order (so H1, H2, H3, etc) so that screen readers can interpret the page correctly. Automatic page titles are often in Heading 1 style so you may need to start headings in your content with Heading 2 style.

Use meaningful links

Links can add context and depth. They also avoid the need to repeat information handled elsewhere. The advantages of this are that there is one central version and that it helps keep our web content concise. Duplicating content that appears elsewhere is bad for SEO and most importantly for the user.

Include links where they’re useful to the website user. Add a brief description of the link in the “Title” box. This appears to the sighted user when their mouse cursor is over the link and to visually impaired people using screenreader software.

Linked text should be meaningful and make sense if you read it on its own. This helps people scan the copy, and can be read by screen readers. Don’t use
eg “click here” or “here” as links – the words are redundant and they do not make sense on their own.

Make links concise, linking the most relevant part of the wording, eg “Read more about <teaching and assessment in the School of Physics and Astronomy>” instead
of “<Read more about teaching and assessment on the School of Physics and Astronomy website>.”

Good examples of links

Poor examples of links

  • For more information on open days, click here.
  • Our annual report gives details of our University over the past five years: annual_report.pdf

Text alternatives for images

For every image, write alternative text that provides the information or function of the image. For purely decorative images, there is no need to write alternative text.

Give images descriptive, concise alt text. Aim for descriptions under 125 characters. Do not use include ‘image of’ or ‘picture of’. Ask yourself whether your alt text could effectively communicate image content to someone listening on a phone call.

Make sure that diagrams or images with information in them are easy to read on screen and the text in them doesn’t appear too small. You need to be able to describe what they show too, either in alt text, or using the copy on the page, for people using assistive technology.

Good examples of alternative text

  • A postgraduate student working in a biology laboratory
  • Fine Art students final degree show 2018

Poor examples of alternative text

  • Picture of a student
  • Students-art-2018

Clear instructions for page actions

Ensure that instructions, guidance, and error messages are clear, easy to understand, and avoid unnecessarily technical language. Describe input requirements, such as date formats.

Good examples of instructions

  • Password should be at least six characters with at least one number (0-9).
  • Enter your date of birth (DD/MM/YYYY)

Poor examples of instructions

  • New password here
  • DoB

Use clear and concise content

Use simple language and formatting, as appropriate for the context.

  • Write in short, clear sentences and paragraphs.
  • Avoid using unnecessarily complex words and phrases. Consider providing a glossary for terms readers may not know.
  • Expand acronyms on first use. For example, Research Excellence Framework (REF).
  • Consider providing a glossary for terms readers may not know.
  • Use list formatting as appropriate.

More information on accessibility