Usability Guidelines for Accessible Web Design

Learn techniques for designing websites for people with visual and motor impairments who use assistive technology, including:

  • Screen readers
  • Braille readers
  • Screen magnifiers

The information in this report is based on empirical observation of people who are blind, have low vision, and have motor impairments use websites and intranets.

Optimize the user experience by applying the guidelines discussed in this report along with technical accessibility standards. Following technical standards alone does not ensure usability. This report offers usability tips for ensuring ease of use and increased productivity.

This 150-page report presents 75 design guidelines for creating websites for people who use assistive technology for browsing websites. The findings and guidelines are supplemented with discussions, 46 screenshots to illustrate designs that work well (and don’t), and 23 photos of the devices.

Topics covered

  • Current state of affairs
  • Assistive technology users: Observed behavior
  • Applying our usability guidelines along with technical standards for accessibility to optimize the user experience for people with disabilities
  • Applying traditional design rules
  • Graphics and multimedia
  • Pop-up windows, rollover text, new windows, and cascading menus
  • Links and buttons
  • Page organization
  • Intervening pages
  • Forms and fields
  • Presenting text
  • Search
  • Shopping
  • Tables and frames
  • Trust, strategy, and company Image
  • International considerations: United States and Japan
  • Assistive Technology, references, and pricing
  • Disabilities and assistive technology usage
  • Detailed methodology section that shows how you can conduct your own usability studies
  • Accessibility “audit” software
  • A note about government efforts
  • Resources

Research Method

The information in this report is based on usability studies conducted with people with and without disabilities (control group). The studies took place mainly in the United States with additional sessions in Japan.


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