Inclusion is an essential part of Bellevue College’s mission and goals. Creating accessible web content reinforces our commitment to diversity and inclusion.
It is our ethical duty—and required by state and federal law—to ensure equal access to electronic and information technologies. As such, we’ve established Policy 5110, which sets forth requirements and minimum standards for our technology services. The policy references Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Specific to web content, our policy states that all content presented on the web should meet the internationally recognized Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.0, level AA, established by the Worldwide Web Consortium (WC3). WC3’s WCAG 2.0 Guidelines state:
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web content more accessible. Following these guidelines will make content accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities, including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity and combinations of these. Following these guidelines will also often make your Web content more usable to users in general. (Access the full WCAG 2.0 recommendations.)
Web Accessibility Pointers
Images and Alternative Text
Images are a great way to add interest to your web content, but they provide challenges for users who cannot see. Alternative text, also referred to as image descriptions and often abbreviated to “alt text,” is used by assistive technology to describe images and graphics to users who are blind, or who cannot load the image due to slow internet. Alt text allows all users to get the information they need from your website.
It is the responsibility of website managers to add informative alt text to all images when they are added to pages. Alt text can be added through the Alt Text field within the Add Media interface within the Bellevue College Content Management System. WebAim has a helpful guide to creating meaningful alt text.
Alt text should be added for all images and icons, except for purely decorative elements (for example, a telephone icon above in-page text reading “Call Us”). In that case, leave the Alt Text field empty.
Alt text should be descriptive and specific, provide context, and maintain the same bias-free language as on-page text.
If an image includes text within it, all text must be included as alt text, or be repeated adjacent to the image within the page content.
If you’re using a caption to identify people in a photo or provide other information, you do not need to duplicate that same content in the alt text.
Use images that include large amounts of text – instead simply place the text directly on the page.
Alt Text Examples
Acceptable Alt Text
Two BC students kayaking in
Puget Sound with Seattle
skyline in background.
Unacceptable Alt Text
Acceptable Alt Text
Banner with the word “AI” and a young person with other tech-related icons in their hands.
Unacceptable Alt Text
Video without audio should be accompanied by descriptive text or a transcript to allow blind and low-vision users to access the contents of the video.
Video with audio should include synchronized captions, as well as a descriptive transcript.
Videos with visual elements should also include audio descriptions of those elements for context.
Avoid video that flashes or strobes faster than three times per second, especially if there is a high level of red, as this can trigger seizures in some people.
A descriptive transcript should be provided for audio content to provide access for deaf users and users without access to speakers or headphones.
Text & Tables
As noted in the Text & Content Formatting section of this document, proper use of headings (h1, h2, etc.) is important to those using screen readers. Also, tables should only be used to present data — not for layout or stylistic purposes.
If using a PDF, consider making it accessible as possible before you upload to the web. The purpose of the PDF could determine the extent of accessibility; for example, is the PDF just information to consume, or is it a fillable form? Examples of more accessible PDFs include image/object alt tags, labeled form fields, searchable text, logical structure (for screen readers), and bookmarks. (Reference the Adobe Accessibility Overview for more details on creating accessible PDFs.)
As noted in the Text & Content Formatting section of this document, please review when to use a PDF and be mindful that your PDFs are accessible before you upload to the web.
Last Updated October 4, 2022