Accessibility Guide

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Each article can be filtered by role (content creator or developer), or by a range of topics (links, headings, navigation, etc.). You can also adjust how many items are shown per page, and navigate by the pager.

Definition of roles

Content creator: Website editor, instructor working in canvas

Developer: Web admin or developer, mainly working on web themes or complex applications

Note about roles

Roles are determined by the person most likely responsible for an area of web design and development. Guidelines can overlap, and depending on a project or site, the responsibilities may fluctuate.

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Knowing which fields are required to submit a form makes filling that form much easier to do, and less likely to return an error message that confuses the user.

Applicable Roles


New in WCAG 2.2

Not all site visitors use a computer mouse to navigate a webpage. Some people get around a webpage by using only keyboard controls. Some assistive technologies also act as keyboard emulators, which means they rely on keyboard controls working in order to function. This includes switch devices, eye-tracking software, and voice recognition.

Applicable Roles


Content that autoplays can distract site visitors with attention-related disabilities or vestibular disorders, which may prevent the visitor from being able to use the rest of the page. People that use screen readers may also experience autoplay while trying to listen to their screen reader audio—this makes it difficult to navigate a page, if not impossible.

Applicable Roles

Content Creator Developer

Not all users can visually tell a new window or tab is opened, like someone using a magnifier or a screen reader. Or, the user may want to stay in the same browser tab or window so they can easily navigate through their browser history.

Enforcing the behavior within a link can frustrate users who don't realize the link opened elsewhere, or users on mobile devices where it can take more steps to find either the new or previous window.

Users are able to opt in to opening links in new tabs or browsers if they choose. Links that are set to open in new tabs/windows have no override for this behavior, so users are forced into a new tab/window whether they prefer that behavior or not. The user should be able to decide where a page opens using their preferences.

Applicable Roles

Content Creator Developer

If a user can’t visually perceive a page, they may not realize that statuses, updates, or confirmations were loaded on a page. This is disorienting, and can make users wonder if the button or control they pressed worked.

People using magnification to enlarge webpage text may also miss status messages altogether due to the message being out of frame. If the message can be coded semantically, then the message can still be understood and conveyed by assistive technology.

Applicable Roles


WCAG 2.1 and WCAG 2.2

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2 is the most recent baseline W3C Recommendation for developing accessible web content. WCAG is based on four principles:

  1. Perceivable: users must be able to detect the content using a variety of senses.
  2. Operable: users must be able to navigate and use all functionality in web content.
  3. Understandable: users need web content that is readable and predictable.
  4. Robust: users can still access content, even if technologies update or change.

As of today, Washington state policy requires WCAG 2.1 as the accessibility standard. However, we recommend meeting WCAG 2.2, as 2.2 is backward compatible and satisfies 2.1 criteria, in addition to new criteria added in 2023.

ARIA 1.2

Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) provides a range of information to users about complex widgets and states of other interfaces.

Note: semantic HTML should be used instead of ARIA whenever possible.

There are resources for learning more about using ARIA when needed: