Web Accessibility at Penn

The University is committed to providing equal access to information and programs by making its web pages accessible.

Why web accessibility?

Penn websites and content are accessed and used by diverse people within the U.S. and around the world. Some users have visual, hearing, or cognitive impairments that create challenges in accessing website content, and require the use of assistive technologies, such as screen readers and text-only browsers. Other users of Penn websites may be using outmoded technology, or have very slow connection speeds. As such, it is imperative that Penn ensures its online presence and content remain accessible to the widest array of users. 

The information found in this guide will help ensure Penn’s content is accessible to everyone, on every device. 


Web accessibility tips for non-programming staff.


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Information on standards, academic support resources, computing, academic, residential and recreational building access.


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Many users, many needs

According to the US Census Bureau in 2016, 12.8% of the total US population lives with a disability. These impairments can be temporary or permanent and can take many forms: visual, auditory, motor control, etc.

To promote an inclusive and respectful web, it's recommended that  developers and content providers alike keep different user needs in mind when creating content. Below are some of the challenges that our users may face, as well as some possible strategies for removing barriers.

  • Autism spectrum: Use simple colors and language, bulleted lists and clean layouts
  • Screen reader users: Use alternative text, linear layout, structured code, and use markup language that assists with keyboard usage to navigate web pages, instead of a mouse
  • Low vision: Use color contrast, linear layout, and utilize shapes
  • Physical or motor disabilities: Use large clickable targets and space between form fields
  • Deaf or hard of hearing: Use simple language, add transcripts and subtitles, use structure with subheadings and images, and, if needed, request interpreter for appointments
  • Dyslexia: Use simple language and supportive images, consistent layout, provide alternative formats, and allow user to change contrast



University websites must meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA requirement as well as satisfy the 4 underlying principles (POUR) of web accessibility.

Questions about what the law requires in specific situations, including accessibility issues, should be addressed to the Office of General Counsel at (215) 746-5200.

Upcoming Changes

WCAG 2.1 will become the University standard when it is released by the Department of Justice.

Recommended Tools

Pope Tech is the recommended tool for ensuring compliance with federal accessibility standards. Please contact ISC Client Care to have your School, Center, or department provisioned for Pope Tech.