Accessible Design Principles



  • Headings are used in a hierarchical manner. Anything formatted as Heading 3 should be a sub-section to what has been labeled as Heading 2. Headings are nested under other headings; you should never jump from Heading 1 to Heading 4 without using Headings 2 and 3.


  • Images are considered non-text content, and must provide contextual information for screen readers and other accessiblity devices. 
  • Alternative tex for images provides semantic meaning and description for images which is necessary in order to determine the content of the image.
  • See: Alternative Text Basics: Alt Text for Images (Alternative Text)

Links and Hypertext

  • Avoid uninformative link phrases. Phrases like "click here" do not give the user a description of where they will be taken. Instead, use descriptive hyperlink text that clearly communicates what the user will get when they click..
  • Consider the link length: overly long or overly short links may present contextual difficulties
  • Never use an URL as a link.  Imagine listening to a screen reader read that off.
  • Include a link title for additional explanation of link reference.
  •  See: Links and Hyperlinks


  • When you create lists, use the bulleted or numbered list formatting tool. This will allow a screen reader to identify the number of items in a list.

Font Type & Size

  • Try to use simple font in a good size  - no smaller than 11pt for printed materials. Avoid fancy or cursive fonts as these can be difficult to read. Avoid using too many fonts and typing long phrases or sentences in ALL CAPS.



  • Only use tables if you absolutely have to. Do not use tables to make your page look pretty-organized - use them to organize data. When creating a table, be sure to indicate the heading row - this helps a screen reader to read the data in a meaningful way and not as a string of numbers or words.

Use of Space

  • Often, people will use the tab key or space bar to indent items. Additionally, many people will add extra blank lines between sections of a document or page in order to distinguish between sections. For a student with a screen reader, they may believe they've reached the end of a document if they encounter multiple blank spaces. Try to limit the use of Blank spaces and use formatting tools to create spaces before or after your line breaks or section headings.


Resources on the Web

Contact Accessibility Coordinators

  Brandon Ray/Director of IT Services/Technology Accessibility Coordinator

Fax: 360.442.2259

  Mary Kate Morgan/Director of Disability Support Services & Special Populations


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