What is accessibility?

Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the web like anyone else, including having the ability to contribute to the web and

  • perceive
  • understand
  • navigate
  • interact with the web.

Essentially, allowing the person to use the web without being categorised as 'disabled' whilst undertaking activities which they are not otherwise able to do.

Web accessibility also benefits others, including older people with changing abilities due to ageing or a temporary disability, as well as improving the usability of the site for all users. It will also mean your content is available to the widest possible audience.

Web accessibility encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the web, including

  • visual
  • auditory
  • physical
  • speech
  • cognitive
  • neurological

The ability for a person with a disability to understand and use a website, application, intranet or program is governed by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) Disability Discrimination Act, and achieved by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.

Legal requirements

Web accessibility is also a legal requirement as mandated under Commonwealth legislation. In order to reduce the risk of disability discrimination complaints and possible legal action, every person responsible for website content should ensure that all content complies with the current standard, which is WCAG 2.0 to a minimum level of AA conformance.

If the webpage or system can be viewed in a web browser, then accessibility should be addressed. Individual business areas are responsible for ensuring their digital content is accessible. This includes non-webpage files, such as Word documents, videos and PDFs. There are a number of helpful tools available to access the accessibility of your site, as well as training through external parties.

All ANU site reviews include an assessment of accessibility. Please contact us to have your site reviewed.

Tips for addressing accessibility

There are a number of simple ways to start to improve the accessibility of your site, especially during the development stages.


  • All headings should be logical and representative of the page's hierarchical structure.
  • Headings should be marked up with heading tags rather than using text formatting or styles only, such as bold.
  • Ideally pages should start with <h1>.
  • Headings should be descriptive but still concise.
  • Avoid the use of all caps.

Colour contrast

  • Ensure there is sufficient difference between foreground (text) colour and background colour, especially when using coloured text on a background, as people, in particular those with low vision or colour blindness, will have difficulty distinguishing what the text says if contrast is poor. There are a number of tools available online to assist in meeting colour contrast requirements.

Alternative (alt) attributes for images

  • Every image must have an alt attribute.
  • Decorative images should have null (empty) alt attributes (alt="").
  • Descriptive images should have descriptive alt attributes, or have the content and function of the image represented in the surrounding content text.
  • Linked images must include a descriptive alt attribute which clearly describes the link location.


  • Videos must be captioned to allow the content of web audio and video to be accessible to those who do not have access to audio.
  • Captions should be synchronised with the audio.
  • Transcripts should be provided as well, containing additional descriptions, explanations, or comments that may be beneficial, such as indications of laughter or an explosion.
  • Read more about video accessibility at WebAIM
  • Link text should still make sense out of context - the purpose of each link should be determined from the link text alone.
  • File type and size should be included in links to non-webpages.
  • Ambiguous links such as ‘click here' or linking on a URL should also be avoided.
  • Using JavaScript to create links should be avoided as they do not permit keyboard access and will not show with JavaScript disabled.
  • Links should not open in new windows and tabs as this can be disorienting for people, especially those who have difficulty perceiving visual content, and is not expected behaviour. In cases where this is unavoidable, it is recommended that there is advance warning.


  • Used for tabular data only - not laying out blocks of text or images.
  • Must have row or column headings marked up with header (<th>) tags.
  • Should contain captions to provide a short description of the table content.
  • The scope attribute should also be used for complex data tables.



  • Every input must have a label.
  • An input must be bound to its label by making the for="" and id="" equal the same.
  • Forms should be organised in a logical manner through the use of instructions, cues, required form fields, etc.
  • Clearly mark any required fields.
  • Describe the asterisk for the required form fields at the top of the form for clarity.
  • Fieldset is used to descriptively group elements within the form, such as ‘Personal details'.
  • Try not to depend on JavaScript to manipulate form data, set focus, change form elements, or submit forms, as the form can become difficult or impossible to complete or understand using assistive technology.

Submit buttons

  • Short, descriptive text inserted via the value="" attribute.
  • Not JavaScript dependent.
  • If you use an image button (type="image"), the input must have appropriate alt text. Eg
    <input type="image" name="submitbutton" alt="Submit Search" src="submit.gif" >

Content structure

  • Logically structured.
  • Easily scannable.
  • If PDF documents are used, ensure they are accessible documents.


  • Content is still accessible and the site is still functional with JavaScript disabled.
  • If JavaScript must be used and prevents important content from being fully accessed, a statement should be included on the page stating that the site requires JavaScript to be used. An alternative for the JavaScript-generated content should also be provided through the use of the <noscript> element.

Updated:  12 October 2022/ Responsible Officer:  Director Marketing/ Page Contact:  Webstyle