ADA Compliance


The Department of History is dedicated to Universal Design and making all of its documents and web resources accessible to all.  Please report any inaccessible resource to

Key Links

Making Accessible Documents


Documents: Most of us do not think we have a role in accessibility — that is for web designers.  But that is simply not true.  We make documents every day that we put online for our students.   Creating accessible documents (MS Office, Google Apps, PDFs) is key to accessibility for all.  It not only makes our work more useful but it can save us time.  Think about updating your syllabus.

For us accessibility is all about Universal Design.  That is, while accessible design helps students with disabilities, in reality, it helps all students.  Universal design is inclusive design “and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.”

MSU has a good resource, Web Accessibility, that explains the importance of accessibility that includes tutorials, templates, and resources.  The University of Minnesota has an exceptional, media rich, well done site, Accessible U, that can be very helpful.  It has a nice section on making an accessible syllabus.

Check out a revised version of MSU Web Access syllabus for History: Online Course Syllabus Template.

While many consider the most important aspect of accessibility to be web sites, actually one of the most important areas is the everyday documents we distribute to students (e.g., MSword documents, PowerPoint slides, Excel spreadsheets, PDF documents).

MS Word in Spartan 365 has Accessibility Checker built in — always use it!

Basics of Web Accessibility 

Images:  You should add appropriate alternative text to every image, regardless of how it is coded. The alt text should describe the content or function of the image. Purely decorative images should have empty alt text.

Headers: Headings should be consistently used because they make the structure of your documents accessible to screen readers while improving both scannability and maintainability.

Contrast: Ensure a strong color contrast between foreground and background on every document, slide and web page. Always use color plus another visual indicator (for example, color plus boldface type or color plus size to communicate important information.

HTML and CSS: HTML is for communicating basic content. CSS should be used to style the content and control how the information is displayed.

Onfocus: The active area of the web page is the area targeted by the keyboard or activated by mouse click, and users should be able to tell what area is active through some sort of visual cue. Onfocus indicators included in some browsers are inconsistent, so you should be sure to add it via CSS.

Responsive: Able to shift size of font and responsive to different platforms, from desktop to smartphone.  Find responsive and ADA compliant WordPress Themes and use WP Accessibility Plugin or the Web Accessibility Helper plugin

Tables: Use tables to display data and CSS for page layout. Use the table tag <table> to define all tables, and the table caption tag <caption> to summarize the content displayed in it. Use the table heading tag <th> to identify cells that are either row or column headers.

University of Minnesota Apples
Name Season Introduction year
Beacon Early 1936
Haralson Late 1922
Sweet Sixteen Mid 1977

ARIA: Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) is a set of attributes that define ways to make Web content and Web applications (especially those developed with Ajax, JavaScript and more recent web technologies like Bootstrap) more accessible to people with disabilities. For example, ARIA enables accessible navigation landmarks, JavaScript widgets, form hints and error messages, live content updates, and more.


MS Word Accessibility Checker