The ultimate accessible content checklist for web professionals: Part 1

  • Author: Access iQ ®
  • Date: 21 May 2013
  • Access: Free

Quick facts

While accessibility should be factored into any project in the planning stages, content is usually the most frequently updated element of a website, and the quickest way to make or break its accessibility.

This is a checklist of all checklists for content managers, editors, writers, communications specialists working in accessibility.

Taken from our premium guide to web accessibility for content authors, we've broken down the top 14 topic areas you need to consider, into a comprehensive list of checklist items to get you started.

This is the first installment of a three-part series — check back for part two and part three in the coming weeks.

Part 1 covers:


Blind and vision impaired users may not be able to see images on a website, but including a text alternative (or alt text) enables a screen reader to read out the description of meaningful images, or ignore purely decorative ones.

  • If the image is purely decorative, then add an empty alt attribute (alt=””). You must add the alt attribute, even if there is nothing in it.
  • If the image is informative and does not present new information, use the empty alt attribute or add a short text alternative that briefly describes the image. The most important thing is that you apply this consistently.
  • If the image is informative and does present new information, then add a text alternative that describes the purpose of the image.
    • If the image can be described using a text alternative of about 75-100 characters (1 – 2 sentences), then add the text alternative using the alt attribute
    • If the image is complex, such as a graph, map or infographic, then include a short description of the image using the alt attribute plus a long text alternative within the content. The long text alternative could be marked as a text alternative, or it could be expressed as part of the content.
  • Ensure that the purpose of the image is described by the text alternative.
  • Use succinct alt text to maintain 'readability' through a screen reader.
  • In a group of images, duplicate alt text can be avoided by leaving the <alt> attribute empty if the information conveyed by an image is already expressed in the alt text of a previous image.

See the complete topic on images for content authors.


It is important to use headings to structuring a page into sections and provide the user with an idea of what content will follow.

They are even more important for blind and vision impaired users as they allow content to be easily navigated – this means using heading levels rather than styling text with large or bold fonts. Headings are also good for search engine ranking.

  • Organise your content into sections.
  • Ensure that each section of content is identified by a heading.
  • Ensure that each heading describes and identifies its section of content.
  • Keep headings short and succinct.
  • The maximum 'level' you can assign to a heading is <h6>.
  • Ensure headings are properly nested within each section of the document. For example, a Heading 2 must follow a Heading 1; a Heading 3 must following a Heading 2 and so on within each section.
  • Mark headings using HTML heading elements <h1><h6>. Increasing text size or using styles (e.g. emphasis or strong emphasis) is not the same as using heading elements.
  • Avoid use of abbreviations and jargon in headings.

See the complete topic on headings for content authors.


Marking up lists in the correct format, such as an ordered (numbered) or unordered (bulleted) list, allows all users to easily navigate and understand your content.

  • Determine what type of list you would like to use and use the relevant markup.
  • Effective lists bring out important points and make the information easier to read on a webpage; keep your lists short and succinct.
  • If you used the WYSIWYG editor, check that the HTML is correct, and remove any unnecessary tags and attributes.

See the complete topic on lists for content authors.


"Click here" and "read more" links should be abolished immediately! Link text should be meaningful and make sense out of context. It should describe the purpose of a link and if linking to a download, also include the file type and file size.

  • The best approach is to write link text that describes the purpose of the link without the help of surrounding text wherever possible (level AAA requirement).  Otherwise, write link text that describes the purposes of the link with surrounding elements and including the information needed to clarify the link before the link.
  • Ensure link text is as short and concise as possible.
  • Avoid using “click here” or “read more” or any other phrases that are ambiguous or unclear. Also avoid using URLs for link text.
  • For links to email addresses, use the email address as the link text.
  • For links to documents and files, include the file type (e.g. PDF, Word) and the file size within the link text.
  • Meaningful links improves search engine ranking.
  • Ensure that links to the same location have are referred to consistently, or use the same link text.
  • Ensure that links to different locations do not use the same link text.

See the complete topic on links for content authors.

Page titles

Accessible page titles reflect the content that the user will find on the page, aid navigation and can affect the SEO of your website. When including your website name in the page title, it's good practice to first state describe the content on that page followed by the name of the website.

  • Page titles identify the subject of the web page and helps users make sense of where they are on the website by providing context.
  • Accessible page titles help all users, including screen reader users.
  • Page titles are used in different ways by search engines outside of your website. They play an important role in search ranking and are the text displayed in links posted on social networking websites. Accessible page titles are an important search engine optimisation (SEO) tool.
  • Understand how your content management system (CMS) works. Often you will not have direct control over a page title, but rather the page title will be automatically taken from the article or page heading.

See the complete topic on page titles for content authors.



Media Access Australia, as a leader in accessibility, has a wealth of resources for organisations looking to make their workplaces, systems and processes more accessible for people with disabilities.

These include expert guides such as the Service Providers' Accessibility Guide and Sociability: social media for people with a disability. We also have a dedicated web accessibility hub, Access iQ and provide professional accessibility services and practical advice. For those seeking professional development in web accessibility, we have partnered with the University of South Australia on the Professional Certificate in Web Accessibility