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Guidelines for Accessible Web Maintenance


Video Introduction to web accessibility: Where to begin (48s)


College and programme webpages are increasingly the first point for current and prospective students seeking information. Maintaining clear, informative and up to date webpages can help decrease the volume of telephone and face to face queries.


Inclusive webpages should be clear and accessible, easy to navigate, informative and up to date.



Inclusive Guidelines when creating and maintaining web content:

A note on Reading online

It is harder to read online so use simplified language, shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs. Try to avoid using the passive voice and allow plenty of white space. Avoid overly long pages. If a page is becoming too long, split it between pages.


Accessible Information Guidelines

Ensure all your web content follows Accessible Information Guidelines (Word, 432kb).


Image and Audio file Descriptors

Ensure all your images and audio files; including photos, graphs, image maps, animations, audio files and video files; have ALT text descriptions. An ALT (alternative) attribute is a text based description for a non-text element on a web site. These Alt Text Descriptors should give proper, descriptive information.ALT attributes serve a number of useful purposes including:Alt Text: Video tutorial on inserting alt text or long descriptions into images on your websites (2m 42s)


  • Improving accessibility for users with slower connections who may choose not to download graphics. ALT text is available immediately so users do not have to wait until images are fully downloaded. This is particularly useful where images link to another part of a site as the ALT attribute allow users to quickly navigate around the site.
  • Making a site accessible to the visually impaired – as sight reader software applications decipher text only.
  • Helping navigation to, and within, your website: Entering well chosen descriptive text for all ALT attributes will improve the functionality and navigation of a web-site as well as helping the web-site with Search Engines ranking (as search engines index words and not images).
  • Saving ink when printing. Users may wish to turn off images when printing, so in this case it is useful to provide well described ALT attributes.

Long Descriptions ( longdesc) - are used to provide screen readers with extra information regarding an element. It is meant to give someone more information than an ‘alt’ tag. For instance, if a photograph was used and the purpose of it was not clear from its alt tag, then ‘longdesc’ could be used to provide the extra detail. Provide a long description if Alt text will not be adequate. Alt text is not really useful for explaining information that is too complex to describe in only a few words.


Colour Contrast

Avoid black on white as it can cause glare and headaches for some of your readers.

Avoid navigation that relies on colour. This will be inaccessible to visitors who have difficulties perceiving colours.


Headings and Layout


Video tutorial on applying headings and structure to webpages (1m 7s).


Apply heads consistently across your website, and try, as far as possible, use the same layout for each page. Avoid Skipping Heading Levels. A Heading 2 followed by a Heading 4 would be considered skipping a heading level.





Tables and Forms

If you need to create a data table (for example a table with multiple rows and columns that display statistical information) additional coding is required so that the table is accessible. When using screen readers (e.g. JAWS) table data needs to be read out linearly (e.g. from left to right across the entire page).

Ensure you :

  • Enter a table caption to appear at the top of table. (If you decide not to use a caption then you should consider adding the "title" attribute in the code and this will be picked up by a screen reader),
  • Enter a table summary (this will not display on the webpage but will be picked up by screen reader),
  • Select a Header (this depends on the type of data table you are creating. The most common type would be Both i.e. a header for both columns and rows. (The headers will display as bold print).



Forms on College website allow students and staff to register online for courses or services. Forms can present problems for some web users (e.g. It is very easy for someone with impaired vision who relies on an assistive output device such as a screen reader, talking browser or Braille display to get lost in a form).

  • Ensure a form is labelled clearly and is in a logical form
  • A well-organised form is easier to understand and use effectively.
  • Input fields require explicit description


Meaningful Hyperlinks

Hyperlinks should be descriptive, not just ‘click here'. If a link is not descriptive, your visitor will need to read the text around the link and this can be time consuming for those visiting your website for specific information.


Uploading documents

It can be easier to ensure accessibility when using Word docs than PDFs. If you plan to put PDFs online you must have a recent version of Adobe Professional (at least 8.0).

If you cannot use word documents online ensure your documents have the following tag clearly visible on their front page: ‘Word format available upon request'.

Always add the size of file and type of file (e.g. PPT 150kb, or Doc, 2Mb). This is particularly important for those who may be on slower connections.



A "Skip Navigation" Link is also used to enable screen readers to go straight to web page content.


Maintaining Websites

To ensure websites are kept up to date, schedule regular reviews of your website when you can check that content is still correct and hyperlinks still work. Ensure all broken hyperlinks are fixed as soon as they are noted by you or your users.


Useful Links

Centre for Universal Design Web Accessibility Guidelines

TCD Web Office Accessibility Guidelines

Last updated 27 March 2018 by Trinity Inclusive Curriculum (Email).