As a public university, the University at Buffalo adheres to state and federal mandates regarding universal accessibility.

On this page:

Tools and Reporting:

We expect that all UBCMS websites will be in compliance with UB policies. If you have questions about accessibility, please consult the UB Accessibility website (also linked from our site-wide footer.)

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (federal ADA website), Section 508 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act (federal Section 508 website) and parallel New York state regulations require websites to be fully accessible for all users. Here accessibility refers to equivalent experience for people with visual, physical or cognitive impairments. Accessible practice ensures unassisted direct access, such as sufficient font contrast or the ability to navigate without a mouse, as well as compatibility with assistive technology such as a screen reader, following Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG website). However these accommodations can actually benefit all users and should be considered general best practices.

Audit your Web pages for overall accessibility compliance using the WAVE tool.

Audio Transcripts

A transcript is essential for making audio content such as podcasts accessible for individuals with hearing impairments.

Additional Resources


Electronic documents must be accessible with the use of assistive technology and presented in a format that is clear and well-organized whether they are embedded or linked from your Web page (e.g. through the File Download component).

Master Class Resources

Additional Resources

Embedded or Third Party Content

When you include external content using the External Embed or HTML Snippet components it must comply with accessibility mandates.

Similarly, third party sites or systems must also be accessible. You may need to ask vendors to explain how their products are accessible, test for accessibility, and include accessibility assurances in purchase agreements.  

Additional Resources

Font Size and Contrast

Accessibility includes the legibility of text on our pages.  The font sizes and the level of contrast between text and background colors must be great enough so people with poor eyesight can read the words.

UBCMS system-wide fonts are Web-optimized and our new Brand colors are optimized to meet ADA standards (more about our new brand palette).

Form Headings & Labels

Forms should be intuitively organized with clearly marked required fields and clear instructions about what information is desired. Forms must also be usable for people using screen readers or tabbing using a keyboard.

This includes providing a clear label for each field -- for the UBCMS, that means that the Title will be required for each form component such as the Dropdown List or Text Field.

Be careful with Formstack options

Do not use the default Other in a dropdown list with the additional text field - both will be labeled the same id. Instead use a separate and clearly labeled "other" text field.

Do not use the built in date picker. Instead provide separate day, month, and year fields.

Additional Resources


Headings, provided by the UBCMS Title component, provide structure to the content on your Web pages. They break up your content into meaningful sections, define its hierarchical structure and provide handy anchors for deep linking or the On This Page component. calls this semantic structure. Done effectively, this structure allows humans, screen readers and automated search engines to easily digest your page.

  • Do not use Title components solely for visual results. They should be used as section headings.
  • Do not use bold text formatting to give the visual appearance of headings.
  • Every page should have one top level H1 heading.
  • Do not choose heading levels merely because 'they look better.'
  • Descend through the levels or ascend back up and do not skip over heading levels..
    • For example,
      • H1, then H2, then H3... is ok.
      • H1, H2, H3, then H2... is ok.
      • H1 then H3... is NOT ok.
    • For example,
      • H1
        • H2
          • H3
          • H3
        • H2
          • H3

Additional resources

Image Alt Text

Images on Web pages must be fully accessible to screen readers. In practical terms, that means each UBCMS image must be accompanied by 'Alt Text'.  Short for 'alternative text', this descriptive information allows people who cannot see the image to understand what they are missing.

Best practices:

  • Clearly describe what the person cannot see.
  • Be as concise as possible, less than a tweet (140 characters) if possible.
  • Do not begin "picture of..." or "portrait of...." This will be supplied by the screen reader.
  • Use full punctuation, especially periods to help the screen reader parse your text.
  • If adjacent text (like a photo caption) clearly describes the image, you can safely check 'This image does not require alt text' (i.e. "null text") when that setting is available.
  • For complex images (e.g. charts, graphs, figures) also provide a 'long description.' There is no UBCMS setting for this, so we suggest adding a clearly labeled Collapsible Content Container with the description immediately after the figure. And make reference to this description in your alt text; e.g. "figure of xyz. See outline after image."
  • For wayfinding maps, include equivalent text directions on your page, to benefit all users.

Alt Text can be added to these areas:

Master Class Resources

Additional resources

Audit your Web pages for Alt Text compliance using the Image Accessibility Bookmarklet.

There are a variety of accessibility concerns about links, and here are some best practices:

  • Links should make sense out of context.
    • Avoid non-informative phrases like "read more." Screen readers may group all of your links together as a list.
  • Be concise.
    • A link that says "click here to access today's weather" could be shortened to "today's weather."
  • Avoid repetitive links which overload the user.
    • Avoid multiple links on one page that all go to one other site.
    • Replace with deep links to the matching content, or one master link to that other site.
  • Be sure your text clearly matches the content that will be found on the linked page.
    • If this is not easily possible, outreach to the other site to discuss a compromise that will meet both of your needs.
  • Whenever possible, link directly to the most relevant content on the target site by using deep links or anchors (#abc).
  • Links should never be empty, which can be very confusing for keyboard and screen reader users.
    • The UBCMS gives us a lot of protection against this issue, but be careful with third party embedded code.
  • Use text and not the URL itself to label the link.
    • URLs are not very 'readable', especially for a screen reader, and also do not provide much context for where the link will take the reader.

Additional resources

Table Caption & Headings

While it is not necessary for each table to have a caption, a caption is generally very helpful. In the UBCMS, this can be added in the Table component settings, using the Caption field in Table Properties.

Tables that are used to portray data must have clearly identified row and column headings. The headings themselves can just be added to each table cells, but then the Cell Properties for the cell must be adjusted in the Table component settings to declare that it is a heading. In Cell Properties, set Cell Type to 'Header').   

Additional resources

Video Captions

You must add Alt Text to each Video (YouTube) component

For the UBCMS Video (YouTube) component, we have added Alt Text to meet accessibility concerns for our websites, including supporting screen readers that are trying to 'read' the thumbnail image/play button that is shown for each video.

You must add captions to your videos

All videos displayed on UB websites must be made accessible to those who cannot see or hear them, which requires captioning and audio descriptions, as well as an accessible player.

What should we do for our own video portfolio?

To model best practice, University Communications is reviewing all videos that we manage directly (those placed on the UBCommunications YouTube channel). For these videos, we are taking appropriate action, including:

  • Working with our video production providers to file disputes with YouTube.
  • Replacing music in the videos.
  • Removing videos from our webpages and YouTube channels, as necessary; e.g. the 'UB Points of Pride' video will be removed as of May 19, 2014.

Additionally, starting University Communications will contacting UB owners of videos that are embedded on or linked to from UB’s top-level web pages to affirm there are no copyright flags on the videos.

Each unit in the UBCMS should take similar steps to ensure that any communications assets (e.g., videos) they own, manage or have placed on their pages are not in violation.

If those videos are in violation, we expect channel owners to resolve any copyright disputes, replace video soundtracks with authorized or licensed music, or advise us that the video will be taken down and is no longer available for syndication. UB cannot afford to be associated with copyright infringement.

If your department has a YouTube channel or is the owner/manager of videos on YouTube, University Communications strongly recommends that you take these steps, as soon as possible:

  • Go to your YouTube page and check for Copyright Notices in “Video Manager” (see screen shots below)
    • Remarks to the right of the “Edit” button will detail the infringement
  • If you see a copyright notification, please contact your video production provider for help

If your web pages link to videos owned/managed by other UB units:

  • Contact the owner of the video or YouTube Channel to confirm that their videos are not in violation of copyright
  • Work with them to either:
    • rectify the violation,
    • replace unauthorized music with licensed music, or
    • take the video down from YouTube and remove any links that appear on your web pages.

Master Class Resources

Additional resources

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