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What is Penn’s accessibility policy?

University websites and web applications that are created or undergo significant revisions or redesign after July 1, 2024 are expected to meet The Worldwide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.2, Level AA Conformance (WCAG 2.2 Level AA).

For University websites and web applications created before July 1, 2024, our policy remains WCAG 2.1, Level AA. However, website and web application owners are strongly encouraged to update their sites and applications to meet WCAG 2.2, Level AA standards.

What’s covered under this policy?

All websites or applications and their content that Penn uses to conduct or facilitate student education, student life, business activities, and other activities are covered under this policy. Any school, center, department, or office who has a website would also fall under this policy.

This policy extends to any form of electronic resource used for instruction, information distribution, or communication. This includes, but is not limited to, electronic documents (PDFs, spreadsheets, and email), multimedia files (YouTube videos and Podcasts), and online instructional lessons and events (course content and Commencement).

Please contact with any questions regarding the applicability of your site or application to this policy.

How do I find out if my website or application is compliant?
  • Get set up in Pope Tech: Penn uses Pope Tech as our accessibility compliance monitoring platform. Pope Tech is built off the same engine as the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) WAVE evaluation tool. By using Pope Tech, your site's pages will be automatically scanned for accessibility issues. This service will also allow you to track your accessibility compliance over time.
  • Manually evaluate your site for accessibility and usability issues: Keyboard and screen reader testing is essential to making sure your site compliant. Please visit our Manual Evaluation guide and Resource Hub for more information.
  • Contact the Accessibility team: We recognize that you or your staff may not have the ability or resources to confidently identify or fix accessibility issues. Visit our Need Help page to find the guidance you need.
If I’m working with an outside vendor or web agency, how do I ensure their deliverables are accessible?
  • Include language in your RFP or contract that states WCAG 2.2 Level AA compliance is mandatory and launch critical.
  • Integrate accessibility checks at key phases of your project. This includes design deliverables and development work.
  • Establish ownership. Accessibility is the responsibility of the entire team. Identify who owns each component of the project. Make sure project managers, developers, content creators, and designers know what their responsibility are to make your site or application as inclusive as possible.
If my site has multimedia, PDFs, and other documents on it, what do I need to do?

Any document or multimedia on your web properties needs to meet the relevant accessibility standards. To find more information, visit our Multimedia and Document Accessibility pages.

What are some common accessibility issues?
  • Missing alt text or alt tags
  • Lack of captions or transcripts on audio or videos files
  • Empty buttons or links
  • Poor color contrast on elements
  • Form fields that lack labels or are improperly labeled
  • Tables without headings or other structural issues
  • Navigation not being keyboard accessible