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NYSED Web Accessibility Requirements for Websites

These requirements apply to all new or updated web content. This includes:

  • Program area sites undergoing redesign into Drupal
  • Sites that have not started the redesign process or already have a Drupal website in production
  • Web applications
  1. Web Accessibility Requirements
    1. All web content MUST be reviewed for NYSED accessibility standards content prior to going live.
    2. Webpage design requirements
      1. Design of all new Drupal site needs to consider when it is appropriate to post content in a PDF file or on a page (HTML).
      2. Appropriateness of PDF content
        1. PDF and/or Word files is an acceptable format for:
          1. Fill-in Forms
          2. Large Manuals
          3. Large Reports which Contain Data/Calculations
          4. Brochures
          5. Large Publications
          6. Documents for Printing
        2. PDF and/or Word files, without an associated web page with equivalent content posted on a page/HTML, is not an acceptable format for:
          1. Memos
          2. Letters
          3. Instructions
          4. Policies/Procedures
          5. Informational pages (typically less than 5 pages)
        3. The PDF and/or Word files are to be web accessible
      3. Appropriateness of Pages/HTML Content
        1. HTML is to be used to display information, presented as text.
        2. The text can contain images
        3. HTML is to be used in cases where PDF is not an acceptable format.
        4. When you create content using a Basic Page or with any specific content type, created for your area, these pages are considered HTML pages.
        5. Page/HTML content is to be web accessible
    3. Technical requirements
      1. Page/HTML content – WAVE testing
        1. Minimum criteria: zero WAVE tool accessibility errors for the site identified via Chrome WAVE tool
          1. Information about the WAVE tool
          2. Follow-up with fixes using the WAVE tool
          3. WAVE Tool Help
        2. Preferred: zero contrast errors
      2. Microsoft Office documents
        1. Minimum criteria: zero accessibility errors checking MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint 
          1. To check your MS Office files, use the MS Office Accessibility Checker
          2. The NYSED WEBACCESS site contains instructions for creating accessible MS Office files. These instructions can be used to correct errors found by the MS Office Accessibility Checker.
        2. If the information is solely presented as a MS Office file, this information is not considered web accessible. You will also have to provide the information in accessible HTML or in accessible PDF.
      3. PDFs
        1. Minimum criteria:
          1. PDF document is tagged
          2. Title, author and language metadata properties are set
          3. OCR ran to recognize image-based or scanned text and provide a text alternate
          4. Zero errors with the Adobe Acrobat Accessibility Check tool
          5. Manual checks
            1. Tagged reading order follows the logical reading order; forms must have logical tab order. Please click here, for more help on reading order.
            2. Data tables are tagged correctly including:
              1. Header cells tagged with TH, data cells tagged with TD. 
              2. Table cell IDs used in complex tables.
              3. Table header summary is appropriate.
              4. The table must have description/summary, based on the type of the table. 
                1. Data Table: For tables containing data, please use proper table structure. i.e. 
                  • The table needs to have equal number of rows and columns
                  • Tables need headers
                  • Don’t merge the cells 
                2. Information Layout Table: Don’t tag these tables as tables. Tag them as text and provide the logical reading and tag order. Provide a brief description about the content the table has along with the number of rows and columns it has. See 10.1 of Also refer to the following link for more guidelines on data tables and layout tables. 
            3. Lists are properly tagged, with List, List Item, and LBody tags.
            4. Forms 
              1. All form fields are properly tagged and labeled
              2. Form fields contain understandable labels and tooltips.
            5. Links must be readable. i.e. they must have the actual/alternate text and the title. Whenever possible, link around the text in a sentence instead of using the URL. This gives meaningful context to the link when a non-sighted user engages with a links list while using JAWS or NVDA. For example: 
              1. Visit the maps website. Instead of the complete URL 
              2. Visit the Special Education website.  Instead of the complete URL
            6. Underlining Text:  In general, don’t underline words, sentences and paragraphs, as it looks like a link for low-vision users. All links, in conjunction with hue color, should be easily identifiable by some other means. The industry standard is underlining the link. (Please note, that certain legal documents for program areas may have underlines) 
        2. Preferred criteria: zero accessibility errors when checking PDFs
          1. Meets all requirements of HHS section 508 PDF checklist..
      4. Videos / Audio
        1. Minimum criteria: all videos / audio contain Closed Captioning
        2. Preferred criteria: videos / audio contain both Closed Captioning and transcript
      5. Keyboard Accessibility
        1. Minimum criteria: a user can navigate to and from all navigable page elements using only a keyboard
    4. Standards
      1. Page/HTML content
        1. WCAG 2.0 Level AA
      2. PDFs
        1. PDF Techniques for WCAG 2.0
  2. Accessibility Exception

Consideration may be made for an accessibility accommodation where the application of web accessibility standards are neither feasible nor helpful. Please refer to the NYSED Standard for Accessibility Exception request process.


Please Note: If, after reviewing these tools, you still have questions about the web accessibility procedures, you may contact your Web Content Manager or the SED Help Desk. You may also submit your question to the NYSED Web Accessibility Support Forum