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Penn’s Office of General Counsel has determined that the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA and the underlying POUR principles are the standard for Penn websites and web applications. New websites and applications are strongly encouraged to be WCAG 2.1 AA compliant. Adherence will ensure that content is directly accessible to as many people as possible, and capable of being represented in different forms to match people’s sensory, physical, and cognitive abilities.

Penn uses Pope Tech as our accessibility compliance monitoring platform. You can request access to Pope Tech from the Support Center. Pope Tech is built off of the same engine as the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) WAVE evaluation tool. WAVE is a free industry standard tool that can be used to validate the accessibility of a page’s structure, content, and the contrast of colors used in a design.

WCAG 2.0, Level AA

The WCAG 2.0 are a set of guidelines for making webpages more accessible for people with disabilities. They are maintained by the W3C, the main, international governing body for the internet.

Adherence to these simple principles will ensure a uniform, equitable web experience for all users. It allows the software relied upon by people with diverse needs to reinterpret page content in the way that best suits them.

Four principals of accessibility (POUR)

In order for your website or application to be considered accessible, it must follow the four principles of accessibility.


All elements of a page (text, graphics, navigation, multimedia, including videos, podcasts) must be presented in a manner that makes them knowable and usable to the broadest array of users, including those with low vision, as well as those who primarily experience the web via sound or touch.

Details via WebAIM. 


All page controls (navigation, form elements, rich media controls, for instance) must be able to be successfully used by the broadest array of users. Not all users will rely on a mouse to operate page controls; some will rely on keyboards, vocal commands, mouth sticks and more.

Details via WebAIM. 


Information and page controls must be knowable. The language and vocabulary used should be appropriate for target audiences. The use of navigational system and form controls should be consistent, predictable and labeled appropriately. If tasks, such as form submission or calculations, on page are complex, instructions should be provided.

Details via WebAIM. 


Page content must be structured in a way that it can be interpreted by the widest range of user devices and assistive technologies. Just as audience members differ greatly in their abilities, they vary too in the technologies used to access the web. Users should maintain control over how page content is rendered. Consideration should be given to older browsers as well as users with lower bandwidth.

Details via WebAIM. 

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Web Accessibility at Penn