These guidelines are intended to assist the University community, purchasing agents, vendors and developers in making University information technology fully accessible and usable by persons with disabilities. They are based on proven techniques for the design of universally accessible information systems that can be used by individuals with and without disabilities. For technical assistance or guidance regarding these guidelines, please contact [email protected]


  1. Don't use flashing or blinking text.
  2. Provide keyboard equivalents for all functions.
    • Users with disabilities often rely on the keyboard or another type of alternative input device to navigate a program.
    • Verify that all functions can be performed with a keyboard only, and that documentation is provided on the keyboard alternatives used in the program.
    • Guideline References: Section 508 1194.21(a)
  3. Provide for the full functionality of any operating system's accessibility features and the use of common adaptive hardware and software.
    • Users with disabilities often rely on built in accessibility options in the operating system or provided by specialized access software.
    • Verify that the program works effectively with the operating systems accessibility features and test for compatibility with commonly available adaptive hardware and software.
    • Guideline References: Section 508 1194.21 (b)
  4. Insure that the program's focus follows the input focus of the user.
    • Many adaptive software products work between the operating system and the software being used. This interaction requires that the program exposes its input elements to the adaptive software so that it can track changes and orientation for the user with a disability.
    • Verify that all program elements are clearly available through the adaptive software product being used. Test the software with a variety of commonly available adaptive hardware and software.
    • Guideline References: Section 508 1194.21 (c)
  5. Provide text labels for all icons, or the selection of text only buttons.
    • Graphic content is not readily usable by many persons with disabilities, and many adaptive software products provide access by reading textual elements in the software to the user.
    • Using a screen reader, verify that all relevant icon information is provided.
    • Guideline References: Section 508 1194.21 (d)
  6. Keep program interface and icons consistent throughout the application.
    • Consistency of structure and context are crucial for the effective use of a program by many people with disabilities due the additional load created by the addition of adaptive hardware and software to the user experience.
    • Verify that the program interface and use of elements is consistent through the user experience.
    • Guideline References: Section 508 1194.21 (e)
  7. Provide text descriptions for all relevant non-text elements.
    • Screen readers access the program interface by providing the user with audio and Braille output of the text elements that it encounters. All program elements, therefore, need to be properly labeled with a text descriptor.
    • Navigate the program using a screen reader to insure that all program elements are properly identified.
    • Guideline References: Section 508 1194.21 (f)
  8. Support user definable color settings system wide, and allow full support for inverted text replacement of highlighting.
    • A variety of visual disabilities require the ability to change the color settings of the operating system in order for the program to be used effectively. These color changes must be carried through by the software program being used.
    • Verify that changes in the system presentation settings are maintained by the software program.
    • Guideline References: Section 508 1194.21 (g)
  9. Allow users to adjust or disable automated elements.
    • Automated elements can interfere with the effective use of the software for individuals with a variety of processing related disabilities.
    • Verify that automated elements can be adjusted or disabled globally in the program.
    • Guideline References: Section 508 1194.21 (h)
  10. Insure that text and graphics make sense without the use of color.
    • Users who can not differentiate between colors or that are using adaptive equipment without a visual display will not receive or understand the color based content.
    • Verify that the application does not use color coding as the sole means of conveying information. Change the display setting of the presentation to high contrast, white on black and black on white to insure that the content retains its meaning.
    • Guideline References: Section 508 1194.21 (i)
  11. Provide visual cues for audio alerts, and audio alerts for visual cues.
    • Software programs use both audio and visual cues to convey a variety of information to users as to programs' status. Suitable replacements need to be provided to individuals who can not see or hear this information.
    • Verify that audio alters can be presented visually and that visual alerts can be presented auditorily.
  12. Electronic forms should provide access to the form elements so that they can be completed using adaptive technologies.
    • Users should to be able to access the individual form elements in order to complete the forms using their adaptive technologies.
    • Verify that all form fields can be completed using commonly available adaptive technologies.
    • Guideline References: Section 508 1194.21 (l)