Accessible Text Tips
- Auditory Instructions
Refrain from writing instructions that rely upon sound e.g. “a beeping sound indicates you may continue.” Instructions that use auditory page cues may confuse screen readers and those who may have an auditory impairment.
- Associated Press Style
UMC writes and edits all text via Associated Press Style principles. To streamline the usability, page readability and content comprehension, consider using AP Style when writing content for your department or college pages.
Name links in accordance to the content within the link provided. Avoid naming links generally. For example “Click here.” Instead name the link in relation to what the user will find after clicking the link.
For search engine optimization best practices, check the “Open link in a new tab” option when adding links that are external to sdstate.edu, and do not check the “Open link in a new tab” option when linking to pages within sdstate.edu.
- Page Order and Headings
When adding headings to web pages, web editors must follow the correct sequence. An H1, or heading tag, always will be added automatically when the page is created and named. The page title serves as the H1 tag, and will be read first by screen readers.
If information needs to be displayed in a sequential order or by group, editors should structure a page using H2 headings first, then if additional subheadings are required, H3, H4,etc., grouped or "nested" under the H2 sections. This will allow screen readers to understand the pattern of information and the correct reading order. After each section or grouping of related information, another H2 may be added and that same information structure can be repeated, allowing screen readers to understand the sequence in which that information is grouped. A screen reader will read all of the H2 tags first to allow the user to choose which heading is most relevant to read further into, just as the human eye scans a page’s headings before reading further.
- Plain Language
Choose to write using plain, unobstructed language, versus clever or detailed explanations; this respects users’ time, and improves users’ overall website experience. Write text to guide users and the needs of your target audience. Ask yourself: Who is going to read this? What do they need to know? How might they be feeling?
- Static Elements
The static site elements e.g. header, footer, menus should not contain images of text. Where visual icons convey meaning, hidden or alternative text should also present.
- Text Attributes
- The Bold button should be used for emphasizing entire sentences within a paragraph.
- The Italics button should be used for emphasizing a single word within a sentence.
- We do not permit the use of Underline within our site because the underline attribute confuses a word that is not a link for a link.
- Do not add bold, italics or link a heading.
- Do not substitute a heading for a bold or italic word or grouping of words.
- Visual Instructions
When writing text, refrain from giving instructions that rely on shape, size or page location e.g. “click the square button to continue or instructions are in the right-hand column.” Instructions that use visual page cues may confuse screen readers and those who may have a visual impairment.