Get started with accessibility

What is accessibility?

Accessibility means that everyone can use the exact same technology as anyone else—regardless of whether they can manipulate a mouse, how much vision they have, how many colors they can see, how much they can hear, or how they process information. 

Why is important?

University of Alaska  is required by law to ensure all users can access the same information, regardless of the impairments they may have. 

It’s the right thing to do - University of Alaska community fosters inclusivity, and works to ensure that all can participate.

Web accessibility makes your website — and the content on it — more user-friendly and easy-to-understand for all visitors. This includes those with permanent or temporary disabilities and limitations such as:

  • Blindness
  • Low vision
  • Learning disabilities
  • Cognitive disabilities
  • Deafness
  • Hearing loss
  • Speech disabilities
  • Physical disabilities

Guidelines and standards

  • The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were created to help define how to make web content more accessible with the goal of providing a single shared standard.
  • WCAG 2.0 are the most widely-accepted set of recommendations and the Revised 508 Standards are based on WCAG 2.0.
  • When WCAG guidelines are followed they improve usability for everyone.
  • WCAG 2.0 is based on four main guiding principles of accessibility known by the acronym POUR:  perceivable, operable, understandable, robust.

Means the user can identify content and interface elements by means of the senses. For many users, this means perceiving a system primarily visually, while for others, perceivability may be a matter of sound or touch.

Perceivable problem examples:

  • A website's navigation consists of a number of links that are displayed in a different order from page to page. If a user has to relearn basic navigation for each page, how can she effectively move through the website?
  • A Word document contains a number of non-English words and phrases. If the languages are not indicated, how can assistive technology present the text correctly?

Perceivable solutions:

Text Alternatives

  • Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.

Time-based Media

  • Provide alternatives for time-based media.


  • Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.


  • Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.

Means that a user can successfully use controls, buttons, navigation, and other interactive elements. For many users this means using assistive technology like voice recognition, keyboards, screen readers etc.

Operable problem examples:

  • Mouse-dependent web content will be inaccessible to a person cannot use a standard mouse.
  • People with low or no vision also relay on the functionality of the keyboard. They may be able to manipulate a mouse just fine, but it doesn't do them much good because they can't see where to click on the screen. The keyboard is much easier for a person who is blind to manipulate.

Operable solutions

Keyboard Accessible

  • Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
  • Keyboard accessibility is one of the most important principles of Web accessibility because it cuts across disability types and technologies

Enough Time

  • Provide users enough time to read and use content.


  • Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures.
  • Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.

Users should be able to comprehend the content, and learn and remember how to use your UA site. Your UA should be consistent in its presentation and format, predictable in its design and usage patterns, and appropriate to the audience in its voice and tone.

Understandable problem examples:

  • A website's navigation consists of a number of links that are displayed in a different order from page to page. If a user has to relearn basic navigation for each page, how can they effectively move through your UA?
  • A site makes use of numerous abbreviations, acronyms, and jargon. If these are never defined, how can users with disabilities (and others) understand the content?

Understandable solutions


  • Make text content readable and understandable.


  • Make Web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.

Input Assistance

  • Help users avoid and correct mistakes.

Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of users, allowing them to choose the technology they use to interact with websites, online documents, multimedia, and other information formats. Users should be allowed to choose their own technologies to access UA content.

Robust problem examples:

  • A website requires a specific version of a web browser to make use of its features. If a user doesn't or can't use that browser, how can that user experience the features of the site?
  • A document format is inaccessible to a screen reader on a particular operating system. If a user employs that OS for day-to-day tasks, how can she gain access to the document?

Robust solutions:

  • Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.

UA requirements

  • Include required language in the website's footer:
  • Meet a minimum of WCAG2AA accessibility compliance.
  • Have internal written protocols for maintenance and ensuring accessibility standards are met. Internal protocols should include:
    • Designated individual (admin) responsible for the account.
    • How to access the website or social media platform if the designated individual is not available.
    • Schedule for updating contact and log-in information.
    • Schedule for accessibility checks (weekly, monthly, quarterly).
    • Process for remediating inaccessible items.
    • Tool(s) used for accessbility assessment (Modern Campus CMS Page Check, WAVE, etc.).

How do I make my technology accessible?

Learn how to create, and manage digital content that is accessible, usable, and meet the needs of your audience at UA.