CoBWEB Accessibility

ADA & Universal Accessibility Compliance
Accessibility is a measure of how easy it is to load, navigate, read, and understand the content of a website. Web pages are not a print medium- they require special consideration since they can be interpreted in different ways by different browsers and on different platforms. Although they are most often read in a visual manner, there are many different ways a web page can be experienced, such as via a speech browser or an indexing robot. Unlike print-based documents, what the web page author sees is not always what the user experiences. The keys to making websites accessible are graceful degradation, 3 HTML standards compliance, fast loading time, intelligent organization, and consistent architecture. 

CoBWEB Universal Design Guidelines (Original Draft: November 1, 1999; This Version: March 25th, 2000) 
The following guidelines are meant to ensure access to information for a diverse audience of CoBWEB users by removing disability, age, language, and literacy related barriers to information and services. This document reflects Universal Design concepts supported by the National Information Infrastructure (NII), ADA Accessibility Requirements, and W3C standards for development of information systems flexible enough to accommodate the broadest possible range of community users. We are thankful to the City of San Jose for allowing us to incorporate some phraseology from its web accessibility policy, and the Association of Public Sector Web Professionals (PSWP) for assistance in developing these guidelines. 

These universal design guidelines are currently being incorporated into the City of Berkeley website and will evolve to reflect new technologies and information systems, accepted standards for web accessibility, advances in web design implementation tools. 

  1. Every CoBWEB image will have a descriptive "Alt" tag so that screen readers can identify the graphic. If the image is hyper linked, the "Alt" tag will include information regarding the hyperlink.  
  2. Hyper linked text will contain descriptive words. Words like "this", "here" or "click" alone do not convey information about the nature of the link. 
  3. If a document is posted in Portable Document Format (PDF), a second version will also be posted in ASCII or text HTML. In cases where ASCII or text HTML versions are absolutely unavailable, explicit instructions on how to obtain information via telephone, TDD, or mail will be included. All hyperlinks to PDF documents will include the word "PDF" within the hyperlink description.  
  4. All on-line forms will indicate alternate mechanisms (phone number, e-mail address, etc.) for submittal and/or assistance. The text "If you are unable to access this form online, please participate by contacting us via email (, telephone (510) 981-XXXX, or TDD (510) 981-6903." must be included on every CoBWEB form, directly before the form region begins.  
  5. If visitors are required to download software not accessible by a screen reader in order to obtain City documents, the following notice will be posted: "If you are unable to access this form online, please participate by contacting us via email (, telephone (510) 981-XXXX, or TDD (510) 981-6903."  
  6. Components of the website known to pose difficulty for some browsing technologies will include the following notice, at an accessible page location: "If you are unable to access [name of component] online, please participate by contacting us via email (, telephone (510) 981-XXXX, or TDD (510) 981-6903." 
  7. All CoBWEB pages shall either support text browsers or provide alternative text pages with the same information.  
  8. Consistent page layout, navigational tools, coloring, font, and font size will follow the guidelines set forth in the City of Berkeley Web Development Manual to ensure usability and efficient access to information.  
  9. The clearest and simplest language appropriate for a page's content will be used. Consistent grammatical standards will be employed using an acknowledged set of references.  
  10. The use of moving content will be limited. When a page includes moving content, a mechanism within a script or applet will allow users to freeze all motion. Information provided via moving content will have an accessible alternate format.  
  11. CoBWEB pages will include a footer providing a link to "Access Instructions" for persons with disability-related, age-related, language and literacy-related, and technology-related barriers.  
  12. The use of tables for layout will be avoided since tables are not supported by all browsers and cannot be read intelligently by screen readers. For example, newspaper style layouts with text wrapping from one column to the next are not accessible. A general move toward separating content and layout using style sheets will proceed pending ADA 508 approval.  
  13. All audio and video clips will have text transcriptions or descriptions so that information transfer is not solely dependent upon these technologies.  
  14. CoBWEB will not host pages using frames.  
  15. The use of background patterns or floating text over images will be limited as it makes the page much harder, if not impossible, to read for many viewers.  
  16. The use of drop shadows on text will be limited. In cases where information is conveyed using drop shadows, an alternative text page displaying the same information will be provided.  
  17. Fonts will be chosen based on legibility, and the use of several types of fonts mixed together or very narrow or decorative fonts will be limited.  
  18. Non-web safe colors and colors acknowledged to be unacceptably bright, blur edges, create after-images, and tire the eyes will be avoided.  
  19. Animation, or any quickly flashing, blinking, or scrolling elements or banners known to be unsettling to users with glaucoma, cataracts, cognitive disabilities, physical disabilities, and epilepsy will be avoided.  
  20. To accommodate users with limited motor ability all graphical links and buttons will be large and easy to click on. Users will never be asked to click on a moving target.  
  21. Superfluous graphic or "heavy" elements will be avoided to accommodate users accessing CoBWEB through slower modems and less bandwidth.  
  22. Whenever possible and deemed useful in eliminating excessive scrolling, CoBWEB page length will be limited in favor of more user-friendly navigation.  
  23. These CoBWEB design standards will be periodically updated to reflect W3C standards for web accessibility and advances in web design tools.