Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0


These guidelines explain how to make Web content accessible to people with disabilities. The guidelines are intended for all Web content developers (page authors and site designers) and for developers of authoring tools. The primary goal of these guidelines is to promote accessibility. However, following them will also make Web content more available to all users, whatever user agent they are using (e.g., desktop browser, voice browser, mobile phone, automobile-based personal computer, etc.) or constraints they may be operating under (e.g., noisy surroundings, under- or over-illuminated rooms, in a hands-free environment, etc.). Following these guidelines will also help people find information on the Web more quickly. These guidelines do not discourage content developers from using images, video, etc., but rather explain how to make multimedia content more accessible to a wide audience.

This is a reference document for accessibility principles and design ideas. Some of the strategies discussed in this document address certain Web internationalization and mobile access concerns. However, this document focuses on accessibility and does not fully address the related concerns of other W3C Activities. Please consult the W3C Mobile Access Activity home page and the W3C Internationalization Activity home page for more information.


For those unfamiliar with accessibility issues pertaining to Web page design, consider that many users may be operating in contexts very different from your own:

Content developers must consider these different situations during page design. While there are several situations to consider, each accessible design choice generally benefits several disability groups at once and the Web community as a whole. For example, by using style sheets to control font styles and eliminating the FONT element, HTML authors will have more control over their pages, make those pages more accessible to people with low vision, and by sharing the style sheets, will often shorten page download times for all users.

The guidelines discuss accessibility issues and provide accessible design solutions. They address typical scenarios (similar to the font style example) that may pose problems for users with certain disabilities. For example, the first guideline explains how content developers can make images accessible. Some users may not be able to see images, others may use text-based browsers that do not support images, while others may have turned off support for images (e.g., due to a slow Internet connection). The guidelines do not suggest avoiding images as a way to improve accessibility. Instead, they explain that providing a text equivalent of the image will make it accessible.


The guidelines address two general themes: ensuring graceful transformation, and making content understandable and navigable.


By following these guidelines, content developers can create pages that transform gracefully. Pages that transform gracefully remain accessible despite any of the constraints described in the introduction, including physical, sensory, and cognitive disabilities, work constraints, and technological barriers. Here are some keys to designing pages that transform gracefully:

The theme of graceful transformation is addressed primarily by guidelines 1 to 11.


Content developers should make content understandable and navigable. This includes not only making the language clear and simple, but also providing understandable mechanisms for navigating within and between pages. Providing navigation tools and orientation information in pages will maximize accessibility and usability. Not all users can make use of visual clues such as image maps, proportional scroll bars, side-by-side frames, or graphics that guide sighted users of graphical desktop browsers. Users also lose contextual information when they can only view a portion of a page, either because they are accessing the page one word at a time (speech synthesis or braille display), or one section at a time (small display, or a magnified display). Without orientation information, users may not be able to understand very large tables, lists, menus, etc.

The theme of making content understandable and navigable is addressed primarily in guidelines 12 to 14.

(This text is an excerpt from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, © W3C.)