The Enabled Web Instructor: Tom Jewett,

Designed-in accessibility

Retrofitting accessible ramps to a building is expensive, time-consuming, and usually ugly. So is retrofitting an inaccessibly-designed web site. Architect-designed ramps come with the building, look attractive, and benefit people with wheelchairs, baby strollers, airline luggage, delivery carts, and skateboards. Designed-in accessibility adds no cost to a web page, simplifies maintenance, and benefits all visitors.

Modern web design is sometimes characterized as "separation of content from presentation." While this is true to some extent, it doesn't tell the whole story about accessible design. In fact, there are four levels of design, each of which should be separately maintainable from the others yet all of which must work together:

An example—the "University of Lompoc"

This tutorial illustrates how a home page might be developed for a fictitious, but typical, university. All of the work can be done using any popular development environment, or even a simple text editor. For clarity, each design level is shown here as a separate step; however, experienced developers could certainly combine these into a more unified workflow.


View the text content for the U.L. page


View the structured U.L. page

Presentation, part 1: screen layout

View the U.L. page screen layout

Presentation, part 2: images and colors

View the U.L. page with images

Behavior, part 1: combo box

View/test the combo box

Behavior part 2: expanding/collapsing menus

View the U.L. page with dynamic menus

The legal stuff

The information contained in this site and associated services is offered in good faith and represents only the author's current understanding of best practices in accessible web development. This information does not constitute legal advice regarding compliance with laws, regulations, or policies of any jurisdiction or organization, nor does it express or imply any warranty regarding such compliance or suitability for any specific application.

Product and company names listed are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. Any product listing is simply a personal preference of the author and does not imply endorsement over similar products that may not be listed.