Western Oregon Web Accessibility Guidelines


Western Oregon University web accessibility guidelines have been created to fulfill Western Oregon University’s ongoing commitment to establishing and maintaining a learning environment free of barriers. In order to achieve such an environment, these guidelines have been designed to provide accessible web material to all persons regardless of physical, mental or technological ability.

Web accessibility guidelines have also been created to meet ethical and legal standards set by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. These laws prohibit Western Oregon University from discriminating against individuals with disabilities and require all material intended for presentation to the general population to be presented in an accessible format for anyone.

Best Practices for Web Accessibility


  • Provide transcripts of audio content and closed captioned or full text transcripts for video materials where applicable.
  • 3Play Media (http://www.3playmedia.com/): cost effective technique for captioning video content.


  • Do not use flashing or strobe content.
  • Provide easy-to-use controls and navigation schemes.
  • Employ consistency in labeling and navigation, where possible.
  • Use the clearest, simplest language appropriate to the content.
  • Provide control over all time-based media (i.e., slideshows).


  • Use well-structured and semantic HTML.
  • Use meaningful ALT attributes on images.
  • Do not use tables for layout purposes.
  • Properly linearize content, especially forms.
  • Provide sufficient contrast between foreground and background elements.
  • Avoid using pop-up windows.
  • Label all form elements.
  • Do not use Flash for navigation and avoid using it in other places, where possible.
  • Provide access keys and “skip to content” links.
  • Use WAI-ARIA landmarks where possible.
  • Position hidden content of-screen instead of using “display:none.”
  • Provide additional guidance and controls using of-screen content (i.e. descriptions of the page layout and available access keys).
  • Provide easy-to-use controls and navigation schemes.

Development tools

While creating websites, developers should adopt and exceed the web standards established by the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) for the creation of online content. Specifically consult the W3C’s page on accessibility (http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG/)

What kind of web pages should be accessible?

  • Faculty-created pages containing information for use in their classes.
  • Western Oregon University academic and administrative departments, extended programs, research facilities and other public programs of the university.
  • The primary organizations of the university: ASWOU, Athletics, Public Safety, etc.

On what pages is accessibility optional?

  • Web pages of internal employee organizations.
  • Professional web pages created by Western Oregon University employees and hosted on university-owned computers.

Non HTML documents

Many types of documents may not be accessible to screen readers including the following:

  • PDFs
    • Word documents
    • Power Point
    • Flash or streaming video

Sometimes the software used to create specific file types includes features that allow a user to add accessibility functionality. The problem is that many times using these feature properly takes longer than creating the original document.

The easiest method for making a document accessible is to copy the text from the file and paste it into a standard web page. This is especially true for Microsoft word files with minimal formatting and imagery. Documents designed with page layout software such as InDesign or Quark many times depend on graphic elements to convey their message appropriately. The design staff within the Strategic Communications and Marketing office at Western Oregon University will assist individual wishing to convert graphic layouts of marketing material into accessible PDF formats.



A number of plugins are available for the Firefox web browser (http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/?from=getfirefox) in testing a website’s compliance with accessibility guidelines:

Northwest Americans with Disabilities Act & Information Technology Center
Section 508
Disability Info.gov
Masters Degree.net



Strategic Communications & Marketing

503-838-8208 | or e-mail: marcom@wou.edu | Location: Admin 302