Accessibility checklist for web writers

This checklist is based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. It focuses on day-to-day web content issues that web writers control. It doesn’t include extra checks for PDF or Word documents.

Use this checklist with our article on accessibility evaluation for web writers.

The checklist

The checklist is divided into 4 topics: written content, structure and formatting, navigation, and images. Some of the guidelines have a wider scope than implied here, but the focus is on the work web writers do.

Written content

1.3.3 Sensory characteristicsANo instructions rely only on shape, size, screen location, orientation, sound or colour. A text label is also included.
3.1.2 Language of partsAAForeign language words or phrases have the appropriate foreign language tag.
3.1.3 Unusual wordsAAAJargon, idioms and special terms are defined (or avoided if possible).
3.1.4 AbbreviationsAAAAbbreviations and acronyms are defined (or avoided if possible).
3.1.5 Reading levelAAAContent scores below grade 10 in a readability test, after you’ve removed names and titles. If it does not, an alternative version or supplementary content (images, animations, video, audio) is provided.
3.1.6 PronunciationAAAA pronunciation is provided for heteronyms unless the context makes their meaning clear.

Structure and formatting

1.3.1 Info and relationshipsAHeadings, lists, tables, quotations and emphasised text are styled using the appropriate tag. Tags are not used to style text that is not a heading, list or quotation.
2.4.6 Headings and labelsAAHeadings and labels are meaningful. They explain or describe the content that follows.
2.4.10 Section headingsAAAEach main part of the content is labelled with a heading.


2.4.2 Page titledAPages have meaningful titles that help users identify the page in search results and the browser tabs, history and bookmarks.
2.4.4 and 2.4.9 Link purpose (in context and link only)A, AAALinks clearly identify their purpose, preferably without relying on nearby content.
3.2.5 Change on requestAAALinks generally do not open in new windows. When they do, a warning is included within the link text.


1.1.1 Non-text contentAImages have an appropriate blank, short or long text alternative that effectively communicates the information or role played by the image.
1.4.1 Use of colourANo information is communicated only by colour. Text labels or patterns supplement colour.
1.4.3 and 1.4.6 Contrast (minimum and enhanced)AA, AAAText and data in images use a colour that provides sufficient contrast from the background colour.
1.4.5 and 1.4.9 Images of text (no exception)AA, AAAText is not presented as an image (except where decorative or part of logos, diagrams, maps, graphs, historical artefacts)
2.3.1 and 2.3.2 Three flashes (or below threshold)A, AAAImages do not flash more than 3 times in any one-second period.
3.2.4 Consistent identificationAAIcons and their text alternatives are used consistently across all pages.

Note: the guidelines are called ‘success criteria’ in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.