Website Accessibility

We're committed to an inclusive environment with equal access for all.

As part of this commitment, the University mandates adherence to accessibility standards for all websites. Furthermore, we provide a website accessibility report form for anyone encountering issues with accessibility.

What does it mean to have an accessible website?

Our goal is to ensure equal access to communication and information services for all. This involves considering various factors such as physical, technical, economic, and social aspects. Explore Westfield State's Accessibility Tools & Resources page, which provides tools and guidance on acquiring free software through the University.

Accessible websites:

  • Provide alternative descriptions for non-text elements like pictures and graphics
  • Incorporate headers for columns and rows in tables containing data
  • Utilize descriptive language for links
  • Consistency across web pages
  • Adhere to Section 508 Standards
  • The Accessibility Requirements Tool (ART) helps you find the important accessibility rules in the Revised 508 Standards

Learn more on how you can help create an accessible website.

Why is accessibility necessary?

The federal and state governments require state universities to make their online and digital content accessible to everyone. Accessibility means:

  • Can a user who is blind or visually impaired comprehend the content of your graphics, charts, and tables?
  • Can a user who is deaf or hearing-impaired understand the audio content on your website?
  • Can a user access information from your site without state-of-the-art hardware?
  • Your website isn't too cluttered with graphics, links, or flashing text for individuals with learning disabilities.

Website & Email Accessibility Guide

Below are tips to ensure your content and images are more accessible. These standards are mandatory for all content contributors when posting to the University’s website. You may also view Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Checklist to learn more.

Should you have any questions specific to our Content Management System, please consult with the University Website Administrators at

  1. Always include alternative text ("alt text") or captions for images. Read "How to Add Alternative Descriptions to Images" below.
  2. Use headers (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.) to logically structure a page, not to style or emphasize text.
  3. Use bold and italics to style or emphasize text, not to structure your page.
  4. Make sure that all video and audio are captioned or include a supplementary transcript.  Read “Captioning YouTube Videos"
  5. When creating a link to another web page, avoid having the new page automatically open a new tab or window (sometimes called a "target"). If you must do so for security purposes (for instance, when going to an external site may log your user out of their secure session), make sure to let the user know.
  6. Make sure that any files available for download are also accessible.
  7. Avoid flashing content that could cause seizures. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) considers anything that flashes more than three times in a one second time span to be unacceptable.
  8. Avoid coloring text in such a way that it is difficult to differentiate the text from the page background. Avoid pattern backgrounds.  Text and background colors should contrast. Avoid using color alone to give directions.
  9. Avoid audio and video that play automatically. This will make it difficult for users with screen readers to navigate the page. 
  10. Write in a consistent tone and voice. Write in the simplest language appropriate for your content and always check spelling, grammar and readability.
  11. Describe the content of links you want users to click on by hyperlinking text and not by sharing the original URL. Avoid language like "Click Here." Instead use as an example "Learn more about accessibility resources."
Adding Alternative Text to Photos and Graphics

What is alternative text?

Alternative text, commonly known as 'alt text,' is an attribute of the img tag specifically designed for non-visual browsers. When an image is not visible on the page, alt text serves as an alternative description. Essentially, it provides textual content to replace the image for users who cannot see.

Where do I put the alternative text?

In Drupal, follow these steps:

  1. When inserting or editing an image, look for the 'Alternative Text' field.
  2. Enter your descriptive text in this field.

Updating alternative text of an existing image:

  1. Navigate to your image in the 'Media' section
  2. Select Edit
  3. Add new text in the Alt Text field

How to write good alternative text for images

  1. Be clear: Ensure your alt text provides enough context for understanding without being overly verbose.
  2. Be contextual: Describe the image appropriately based on its context. For example, if it's the University logo, use the text "Westfield State University" rather than "Westfield State University Logo." This ensures clarity and relevance.


  • "Campus" provides a brief and clear description.
  • "Campus green" offers more detail, which can be helpful for users.
  • "The campus green on a sunny day with seven trees surrounding the area and a chair to the left of Ely" is too lengthy and detailed. It exceeds the recommended length and might overwhelm users or cause issues with some browsers.

In summary, aim for alt text that strikes a balance between providing enough information for context and being concise enough to be easily understood.

Learn more about alt text best practices

Adding Alternative Text to Email
  1. Right-click an image.
  2. Select Edit Alt Text. The Alt Text pane opens on the right side of the document body.
  3. Type 1-2 sentences to describe the image and its context to someone who cannot see it.

Learn more about accessibility in emails

Complex Images

Complex images, like infographics, charts, and diagrams, contain vast amounts of information that can't be summarized in a few words. To ensure accessibility, it's crucial to offer a two-part text alternative. Firstly, a concise description should identify the image and direct users to a more detailed explanation if necessary. Secondly, the longer description should capture the image's essential information.

Learn more about complex images

PDF (Portable Document Format)

We have documents on this website in PDF (Portable Document Format). We're making sure all files use the latest Acrobat version for better accessibility. Westfield State students, faculty, and staff have free access to Adobe that can be downloaded here. 

If Adobe Reader doesn't work for you, we offer alternative formats like text or HTML files whenever possible.

Learn more on how to create accessible PDFs

Looking for additional resources?

Explore additional resources for comprehensive insights into accessibility.

Campus Globe against cloudy blue sky

Contact Us

Website Administrators