Universal Website Accessibility Policy for State Websites

Version: 4.1
Date Issued (revised): December 9. 2019
Date Effective: immediately
Supersedes: Version 4.0

Changes: Eliminate all references to the Department of Information Technology (DOIT).


It is the policy of the State of Connecticut that information and services on Connecticut State Government Web Sites are/be designed to be accessible to people with disabilities.  It is the responsibility of the agency and its web page developers to become familiar with the guidelines for achieving universal accessibility and to apply these principles in designing and creating any official State of Connecticut Website.

According to the latest statistics available from the Bureau of the Census, there are 9.7 million people in the United States who have difficulty seeing the words and letters in ordinary newsprint, equal to 5.0% of the total population. Another 10.9 million people, or nearly 6% of the total population, have difficulty hearing what is said in an ordinary conversation with another person. In 1995, Connecticut had an estimated 35,000 people who were legally blind, and twice that number who were visually impaired. Additionally, there are estimated to be 25,000 people who are profoundly deaf and 175,000 people who are hard of hearing in Connecticut.

The use of the guidelines below will ensure that web sites created by the State of Connecticut are developed to serve the largest possible audience. Compliance with these guidelines provides an added benefit to those users with text-based browsers, low-end processors, slow modem connections and/or no multi-media capabilities on their computer.  It also allows for access to Connecticut web sites by new technologies, such as WebTV, internet phones, and personal organizers with internet connectivity.

Design Guidelines

This policy provides a set of established guidelines adopted by the the State of Connecticut and a checklist of design requirements which provides a quick reference for numerous design issues.

The State of Connecticut has adopted theWeb Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 W3C Recommendation 5-June-2018 (WCAG) as the primary guideline to meet the objectives of the Universal Accessibility for State Web Sites policy.  These guidelines explain how and why 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 using 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-busy 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.

To comply with this policy, agencies must  be able to demonstrate that they have achieved WCAG Conformance Level "A" which means that all Priority 1 checkpoints are satisfied

Agency webmasters are encouraged, but not required at this time, to achieve WCAG Conformance Level "AA".


Checklist of Design Requirements (Checklist revised: June, 2000)

The following checklist list has been compiled from various sources. Some of the items in this checklist are categorized as Priority 2 checkpoints in the WCAG.  The purpose of this list is to provide a summary of the types of issues to consider when creating and designing accessible HTML pages. Please note that not all of the requirements are yet supported by all browsers, but the rendering of your page in current browsers will not be adversely affected by their use.

Universal Design
  1. Include a document type declaration (DOCTYPE) in your web pages.  This declares what version of HTML you are using in your documents, and assists the browser in rendering your pages correctly.
  2. Maintain a standard page layout and navigation method throughout the web site.
  3. Use headings, lists, and consistent structure.
  4. Avoid the unnecessary use of icons, graphics and photographs.
  5. Use plain backgrounds and simple layouts to improve the readability of text.
  6. Ensure that foreground and background color combinations provide sufficient contrast when viewed by someone having color deficits or when viewed on a black and white screen.
  7. Provide a text-only index or site map of your site.
  8. Include textual as well as graphical navigation aids.
  9. Do not abbreviate dates; for example, use December 1, 2000 rather than 12/1/00.
  10. Ensure that dynamic content is accessible or provide an alternative presentation or page.
  11. Until user agents allow users to freeze moving content, avoid movement in pages.
  12. Test your web pages with a variety of web technologies; including ,but not limited to, graphical browsers with the images turned off, browsers with JavaScript disabled, a text based browser, using only your keyboard, and using assistive technology.
  13. Avoid the use of HTML tags or extensions which are supported by only one browser.
  14. Check web pages and images at different monitor resolutions, monitor sizes and color depth settings.
  15. Hyperlinks to downloadable files should include a text description that includes the file size and file type.
  16. You may consider the development of a text-only version of the document or site to facilitate access not only by people with visual impairments, but users of non-graphical browsers or slow Internet connections. Keep in mind, however, this option requires considerable resources and discipline to keep the two versions of the content in sync.
Text-Based Design
  1. End all sentences, headers, list items, etc. with a period or other suitable punctuation.
  2. Avoid using side by side presentation of text, for example, columns and tables.
  3. Provide alternate versions of forms; Alternatives might include a simple list or paragraph of what is needed to submit a form entry and then provide a link to a mailto: feature or simply an appropriate e-mail address to send the text.
  4. Minimize the number of hyperlinks that appear in a single line of text - one hyperlink is best; consider using vertical lists for links wherever possible.
  5. Avoid/Limit the use of bitmap images of text, unless a textual alternative is also provided.
  6. Consider beginning lists with a descriptive identifier and the number of items so the users will have an idea of what the list represents and the total length of the list. Using numbers instead of bullets will also help the user to remember items that interest them.
  7. Provide meaningful and descriptive text for hyperlinks, don't use short hand, e.g. "click here"; instead "Follow this link to our News Page".  (Screen readers can search specifically for linked text, "click here" provides no indication of where the link will take them.) If documents are provided in a specialized format (e.g. PDF (Portable Document Format) , etc.) provide the equivalent text in plain text or HTML format.
Graphics and Images
  1. Keep the number of colors in your images to a minimum.
  2. Minimize the file size and number of images you display on any one page.
  3. Design your background image at the lowest color depth and resolution you can.
  4. Ensure that text can always be clearly read at any location against the background.
  5. Avoid/Limit using image maps; provide an alternate text-based method of selecting options when image maps are used, e.g., separate HTML page or menu bar.
  6. Use the ALT attribute with image tags to provide associated, meaningful, text for all images, pictures and graphical bullets. 
  7. Consider using the "longdesc" attribute of the IMG tag to specify a link to a long description of the image. This description should supplement the short description provided using the ALT attribute. When the image has an associated image map, this attribute should provide information about the image map's contents. This is particularly important for server-side image maps. 
  8. If image files are used for graphical bullets in place of standard HTML, it is best to use a bullet character like an asterisk " * " or "o" in the ALT = text field of the <IMG> tag (rather than describing the bullet as: "This is a small purple square").
Audio/Visual Features
  1. Provide text transcriptions of all video clips.
  2. If possible include captions or text tracts with a description or sounds of the movie.
  3. Provide descriptive passages about speakers and events being shown through video clips.
  4. Give a written description of any critical information that is contained in audio files contained on your website.
  5. If you link to an audio file, inform the user of the audio file format and file size in kilobytes.
Scripts, applets and plug-ins
  1. Provide alternative content in case active features are inaccessible or unsupported.