Website guidelines

Web Accessibility Guidelines

The Web Services team is responsible for building and updating many pages and sites on the Messiah University external website. On the pages that the Office of Marketing and Public Relations 'owns,' we strive to adhere to the following guidelines that help hearing or visually impaired visitors (and we encourage other content owners to follow these guidelines as well). These guidelines are a work-in-progress that may change from time to time, so content owners should visit this page often to keep abreast of the most recent recommendations and guidelines.


What is accessible design?

An online document or tool is accessible when it can be easily understood by everyone, regardless of what browser or adaptive equipment he or she is using.

Another term for accessibility is universal design , and is the principle that any one document or tool can be accessed by any user regardless of the device (e.g. visual browser, screen reader, mobile device) he or she is using.



  • Give images tag an alt text element.
  • Provide redundant text links for each active region of a server-side image map.

General Design

  • Organize documents so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet.
  • Test pages in multiple browsers and operating systems, such as Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari on both Windows and Apple OS if available.
  • Avoid scrolling text that is difficult to read via screen reader.
  • Use headings and bulleted lists to organize page content.

In-Text Links*

  • Write links that make sense out of context. Use descriptive link text detailing the destination, not just "click here," or other ambiguous phrases. Link text should be made up of phrases rather than single words, so that users with limited motor control will not have difficulty selecting links.

  • Maintain the standard that text links are underlined and are a different color value (lighter or darker) than the main text. This provision will help colorblind users find links more easily, and is good usability practice.

  • Avoid links opening in a new window unless absolutely necessary. New windows are disorienting to users of both screen readers and visual browsers (because the Back button becomes "disabled") Also be aware that some users of visual browsers disable pop-up windows to avoid advertising.
    NOTE: If links do open in a new window, include a textual indication (e.g. External Resources [New Window]) so screen reader users are aware of the new window.


  • When electronic forms are designed to be completed online, the form will 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.
  • Messiah University website does not use framesets. Framesets are not universally accessible. In addition, the content of frames may not be searchable by search engines.


  • Identify row and column headers for data tables and as a method to relate the data cells to those headers.
  • Use markup to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers.


*content provided by Penn State University AccessAbility website