Helpful ADA Accessibility Tips for Website Editors

Here are some helpful tips for site editors when developing their website, then maintaining it moving forward. All of them are great for SEO and for all users, handicapped or not.

1. Nested Headings and Descriptive Text

For each page, headings should start with one <h1> tag and then flow down to <h2>, <h3>, and so on down to <h6> based on the hierarchy of subheadings within the page content. For most websites the page/post title is a Heading 1 so the first heading in the body copy would be a Heading 2. Clear, descriptive text should be used for page titles, headings, and link anchor text. This text must accurately convey the subject of the content that follows.

2. PDF Alternatives

Always provide documents in an alternative text-based format, such as HTML or RTF (Rich Text Format), in addition to PDF. Text-based formats are the most compatible with assistive technologies.

3. Image Naming Convention

Filenames should always be lowercase with hyphens separating keywords rather than spaces or other characters.
There are three main reasons for using these file naming conventions:

  • Lowercase letters and hyphens are easier to remember and re-type if a
    visitor needs to type out a URL. If all filenames are lowercase, that is one less variable to worry about when typing out a URL.
  • Spaces get transformed into “%20” in a URL so we always use hyphens which are much cleaner and easier to type by a visitor.
  • SEO – Search engines will read keywords in filenames if separated by hyphens.


The example below uses uppercase letters, underscores and a lack of space between keywords.


The improved filename below is just a little longer but uses actual keywords for SEO improvement and is more memorable.


4. Descriptive alt text (short for “alternative text”)

All meaningful images on a website must have alt text — a brief text description of images that screen readers can understand and speak.

Note that it is only applicable for image files; not PDFs. Be as descriptive as possible by pretending you are describing what is in the image to a person who cannot see. A screen reader will be reading this descriptive text to the user. Avoid obvious phrases like “A photo of…”.

5. No Images of Text

No images of text are permitted when actual text can readily be substituted. Exceptions: logos, branding, graph labels.

6. No Automatic Video or Audio Play/Text Transcripts

Video and/or audio may not play unless a user clicks to play the media.

All audio and video files must be accompanied with a text transcript directly below the file. Text transcript must accurately convey the full meaning conveyed in the audio or video.

Provide audio descriptions of images appearing in videos (including changes in setting, gestures, and other details) to make videos accessible to people who are blind or have low vision. Provide text captions synchronized with the video images to make videos and audio tracks accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

7. Closed Captioning

All video with meaningful sound contains accurate, synced closed captioning.