For Content Providers

Web accessibility, which ensures there are no barriers preventing people with disabilities from interacting with Penn websites, doesn’t stop with developers. It is a continuous, shared responsibility for all members of the Penn community, including those involved in the creation, publishing, or sharing of digital resources.

All members of the University community who contribute content to a website—spanning writers, photographers, and videographers—should be aware of how the principles of accessibility apply to different mediums. In most cases, only simple steps need to be taken to guarantee accessibility.

Content providers should familiarize themselves with the guide below.


Use headings in place of bold face. Headings assist with skimming the contents on the page. Start with Heading 1 (one per page), then use Heading 2, followed by Heading 3, then Heading 4 (up to Heading 6.)

Use informative hyperlinks

Users need to know where the link goes or what the link does. Instead of linking to “click here” use “go to” or “download.”

Use lists

Use lists to break up a wall of text.


  • Use colors that are not too bright for cognitively-impaired users 
  • Provide text when using color for emphasis, e.g. "Alert! Registration Deadline" (red font) for color-blind users and screen readers

Use “back to top” anchors

Use "Back To Top" anchors so that users can find their place readily on long pages.


  • Make Microsoft Word documents accessible before posting or saving as PDF
  • Make PDF files accessible using Adobe Acrobat Pro 
  • On the web page where the file is hosted, add a label (PDF) or (DOC) after the link, e.g., Download Report (PDF)

Select images that add value or additional content and include alternative text (Alt Tag) so images can be read by screenreaders. Use decorative images only if needed.

When Writing Alt Tags, Context is Everything

First, determine the purpose of the image:  Is it content, a functional link, or decorative? Then follow these guidelines:

DO: Correct Way To Write Alt Tag

  • Do write alt tags that describe the image and emotions conveyed. The alt tag, caption and title work together so visually-challenged visitors using a screen reader can be included in the meaning of the image
  • Do use spaces between words (not hyphens or underscores) 
  • Do write out text that is embedded in the image, e.g. name of organization in logo

DON’T: Incorrect Way To Write Alt Tag

  • Don’t be redundant; Don’t copy/paste the title, the caption, or use the same alt tag for all images on a page
  • Don’t use acronyms and abbreviations unless they are required; spell them out
  • Don’t write alt tags for decorative images that do not add relative content to a page; Leave the alternative text field empty
  • Don’t write “logo’’ or ”graphic” for descriptions of logos and graphics; write only the words that are embedded in the logo or graphic; If graphics are purely decorative leave the alt tag field empty


Both transcripts and closed-captioning should be provided as alternative ways to present video content for users that are unable to hear, such as deaf users and those reliant on screen readers.  

  • Add closed-captioning to video when it is uploaded to video hosting service
  • Offer transcripts next to video when posting on webpage
  • If transcript is a PDF, make sure it is an accessible PDF before posting
  • If video has music sound track only, explain the actions on the screen. If the video is a slide show, create a transcript with the text from each slide
  • Label the link with length of time to set expectations for user


Transcripts should be provided as an alternative method to present audio content for users that are unable to hear, such as deaf users and screen readers.  

  • Offer transcripts next to podcast when posting on webpage
  • Include link to transcript in show notes of the podcast hosting service, like Libsyn
  • If transcript is a PDF, make sure it is an accessible PDF before posting
  • Label the link to an audio file with length of time to set expectations for user. Embedded sound files are usually labeled with a counter

offer assistance

Consider providing an email address or a "Contact Us For Assistance" web form for users to request alternative formats.


A more detailed downloadable version of this information is available.

Content Provider Tips (PDF)

A simplified version of this information for new users is available.

Quick Start Guide (PDF)


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.