Accessibility Guidelines

"The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect."
-- Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web

In October 1994, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web, founded the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to lead the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its interoperability.

Today the W3C has grown to over 450 member organizations from all over the world. One of the W3C's long term goals for the Web - Universal Access: to make the Web accessible to all - includes promoting a high degree of usability for people with disabilities, who comprise at least 10% of all Web users (

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) was established by the W3C to pursue accessibility of the Web through several areas of endeavor, one of which includes guidelines development. The WAI developed Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) ( to provide standards and techniques for making all Web sites accessible.

In 1998, Congress amended Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. ‘ 794d) requiring Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Under Section 508 Federal agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to electronic information that is comparable to the access available to others so inaccessible technology won't interfere with their ability to obtain and use information.

Congress developed §1194.22 of Section 508 specifically to establish accessibility requirements for Federal agencies' Web sites. The WAI's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) formed the basis for these regulations so, though Section 508 regulates Federal agencies' Web sites it includes universally applicable standards.

Section 508 §1194.22 does remain consistent with the WCAG however, Section 508's requirements are less subjective and therefore easier to implement and enforce than the WCAG. Adopting Section 508 §1194.22 requirements becomes the best choice for improving the accessibility of the College of the Holy Cross' Web site because these Federal regulations are both universal and achievable. While there is no legal requirement to adopt any accessibility requirements for the Holy Cross Web site, concern for our constituents and respect for the purpose of the Web creates an ethical obligation we must fulfill.


The Holy Cross Web site is a major source of information and communication for the College's constituents and, as such, should be accessible to all users regardless of their abilities or disabilities. In order to ensure that as many of our constituents as possible are able to interact with the College's Web site it is requested that all new sections or major page revisions of the official College Web site be in compliance with the standards of the Federal Rehabilitation Act Section 508 §1194.22, detailed in Appendix A. By complying with Section 508 guidelines a baseline level of accessibility can be assured for our Web site users.

Exceptions to this accessibility requirement may be made in cases where adherence to it would cause an undue burden for the site in question, contact Public Affairs for information.

New Web sites or major page revisions need to be reviewed for accessibility by Public Affairs before being made public on the official College Web site.

Appendix A.

Web sites must adhere to the following 16 provisions to comply with Section 508 § 1194.22:

(a) A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided (e.g., via "alt", "longdesc", or in element content).

(b) Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized with the presentation.

(c) Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup.

(d) Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet.

(e) Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region of a server-side image map.

(f) Client-side image maps shall be provided instead of server-side image maps except where the regions cannot be defined with an available geometric shape.

(g) Row and column headers shall be identified for data tables.

(h) Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers.

(i) Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation.

(j) Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz.

(k) A text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be provided to make a Web site comply with the provisions of this part, when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way. The content of the text-only page shall be updated whenever the primary page changes.

(l) When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology.

(m) When a Web page requires that an applet, plug-in or other application be present on the client system to interpret page content, the page must provide a link to a plug-in or applet that complies with §1194.21(a) through (l)

(n) When electronic forms are designed to be completed online, the form shall allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues.

(o) A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links.

(p) When a timed response is required, the user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to indicate more time is required.

The W3C maintains numerous validation tools. Check your documents with the MarkUp Validation Service at

For an explanation of techniques that can be used to comply with Section 508 see:

For assistance applying these provisions to College Web pages contact the department of Public Affairs:


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