How can I make my Enterprise site accessible, and why is accessibility important?

Why is Accessibility Important? 

As a public institution, we are legally required to make each piece of digital content we publish accessible. This includes every page on our enterprise sites and all publicly accessible documents, files, and media.

Additionally, if your enterprise site is not accessible, then you will get fewer active and engaged visitors, and therefore less interest in your site.  

Determining Site Accessibility

According to PSU's Accessibility Department:

An online, electronic, or built environment is only accessible if individuals with disabilities are able to independently acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services within the same time frame as individuals without disabilities.

General Guidelines for Accessibility

As a public institution, we are expected to meet level A and AA WCAG2.0 requirements. There are a multitude of requirements under that umbrella, and many are met by virtue of how the PSU Enterprise was created. However, there are things you must do on your Enterprise site to ensure its compliance.

Please note that the guidelines below are not all-encompassing. They are simply the most frequent modifications that you will encounter on an Enterprise site. With that in mind, please make sure to review the WCAG2.0 requirements, especially if your site has links to documents or video content.   

Alt Text

When a screenreader encounters an image it cannot simply describe the image. Rather, it will read off the alt text text associated with the image to give the visitor the information being conveyed through the image. 

Key points to remember:

  • Alt text provides an text equivalent to an image’s content, not a description of the image.
  • Decorative images with no relevant content or function should have a "space" (using the spacebar on your keyboard) in the alt text field. This makes null alt text which a screen reader will skip over as if the image isn't there.
  • If an image is a link, the alt text must describe the link’s destination. In general, though, we do not recommend making images links as it negatively impacts SEO, site performance, and usability. 
  • Avoid words like "picture of," "image of," or "link to."
  • Use the fewest number of words necessary. 

Alt Text Example

This is an image on PSU's About page which is meant to represent PSU's student to faculty ratio. 

Sample image demonstrating PSU's student to faculty ratio

Suggested alt text: “PSU has a student to faculty ratio of 17 to 1” or “There is one faculty member for every 17 students at PSU”.  

How to apply alt text on your Enterprise site


Heading formats are applied to section titles; they allow visitors using adaptive equipment (such as screen readers) to “skim” a page, much like sighted visitors do by skipping from heading to heading or by pulling up a list of headings on the page.

Key points to remember: 

  • Text formatting such as bold or italics does not replace heading formats. Use actual heading formats on your section titles.
  • Do not use headings for just visual results; they are for structure and organization.  
  • Nest headings properly; maintain the hierarchy. There are 6 different heading types (H1-H6). H1 is your page title, you cannot change that. H2 is for major section headings. H3 is for subsections of an H2. H4 is for subsections of an H3. This continues through to H6. 

How to apply heading formats on your Enterprise site


Someone with a screenreader can skip from link to link or pull up a list of links on a page, just as they can with headings. As such, you can't depend on surrounding text to explain the link’s purpose, so all links must make sense out of context.

Key points to remember:

  • Read the link by itself. Does it make sense?
  • Include the extension type when linking to documents. For example, write (PDF) at the end of the linked text if linking to a PDF. 
  • Don't use full URLs as links since they rarely make sense out of context. Even if they do make sense, they are clunky and negatively impact SEO. 

Link Examples:

Links named for their destination:

Things to avoid:

How to create a link on your Enterprise site

Additional Guidelines

  • Use pre-formatted headings and lists to provide structure for your pages (i.e. use your buttons). 
  • Do not rely on color alone to convey meaning. Use color and another visual indicator. 
  • Maintain strong color contrast, especially between text and background.
  • Use the simplest language appropriate for your content.
  • Use empty (white) space to improve readability.
  • Don't use tables in the Enterprise CMS. 
  • Use graphics to supplement text.
  • Check spelling and grammar.

Additional Resources

Please remember, these guidelines are not comprehensive. As such, it's important to review more comprehensive guidelines and to verify all digital content you publish publicly is accessible. To help with that process, there are a variety of resources you can use that outline accessibility guidelines and tools you can use to help check your site for accessibility.

Along with those resources, you can request Siteimprove access by emailing ucomm-support@pdx.edu. Siteimprove is a program that scans your site for accessibility and quality assurance. 

For additional support, email ucomm-support@pdx.edu