WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

Projects - Steppingstones Literature Review Detailed Results


Below are results from the Steppingstones literature review conducted by WebAIM. Please read our summary and overview of this literature review. The numbers in parentheses indicate the number of literature articles that referenced a particular element or (in the case of higher level categories) sub-elements. For example, WCAG was referenced by 16 articles and Section 508 was referenced by 4 articles. The higher level category of Use accessibility guidelines and standards was referenced 23 times, which includes the references for WCAG and/or Section 508 and additional references to the general use of accessibility guidelines and standards.

Many additional recommendations were made and recorded, but do not appear below. Additionally, some elements listed could potentially be identified in multiple categories. For instance, "Whitespace" is listed below under a category of "Structure". Only instances when articles referenced whitespace in terms of site structure and layout were recorded here. While whitespace may be a factor of readability and attention/distraction, any references to it in these contexts were recorded individually and separate from the rubric below. Additional details on recommendations that were provided, but that are not listed below will be made available later.

Conformance with standards/best practices (63)

  • Make sure you have valid HTML/CSS (2)
  • Use accessibility guidelines and standards (23)
    • WCAG (16)
    • Section 508 (4)
  • Follow usability guidelines (8)
  • Use principles of universal design (17)
  • Use simple content (15)
  • Use simple designs. This would include the layout, the options, and the navigation (39)
  • Separate content from design (CSS) (15)
  • Make sure you are consistent (18)

Common design elements (76)

  • Items that pertain to navigation or user interaction (54)
    • Placement and location of navigation items (4)
    • Consistency throughout the site (21)
    • Use of standardized icons (e.g., to indicate the homepage, e-mail) (7)
    • Use of a home button (3)
    • Availability of a contact mechanism (2)
    • Providing mechanisms for task sequencing (e.g., use of task bars, sequence indicators, backtracking, or choice filtering) (6)
    • Use of large clickable targets on the page (15)
    • Limiting the number of options or steps required by the user (18)
    • Presence of a search for the site content (10)
    • Presence of a site map or index (10)
    • Use of form labels and labels for interactive controls (9)
    • Proximity of text labels to associated form elements (2)
    • Use of form elements that pre-fill, pre-select, or order for the user. (1)
    • Presenting links in a standard and commonly understood manner (e.g., blue, underlined) (5 )
    • Providing link text that is descriptive (e.g., it includes warnings or notices such as the presence of a PDF or the opening of a new window). (7)
    • Use of links that are visually apparent (4)
    • Linking related content on the site (2)
    • Use of Previous and Next page link(s) (6)
  • Orientation of the user and helping the user avoid errors (44)
    • Provide error identification and recovery mechanisms (21)
    • Provide instructions, prompts, or other error prevention mechanisms to the user. (33)
    • Provide the user with the context for their site location (e.g., breadcrumbs, tabs) (11)
    • Provide the user with alerts, feedback mechanisms, and progress indicators (e.g., download status) (17)
  • User control (45)
    • Provide the user with in page settings, controls, or widgets (e.g., within the web page they might use a widget to control font size or choose a style) (18)
    • Provide the user with external control (e.g., to enable user css, browser settings, allow [NOT explicitly provide] font size changes) (11)
    • Avoid time limits or provide the user with control over time-based content. (15)
    • Store the users profile or presentation information for repeated use. (6)

Language Use/Reading (55)

  • Use language elements that are helpful to users (49)
    • Be consistent in your language use (5)
    • Elicit imagery in your language use (2)
    • Use language that is as simple as is appropriate for the content (38)
    • Be succinct in your language use (i.e., reduce your amount of text) (25)
    • Use active vs. passive voice (5)
    • Avoid colloquialisms, non-literal text, jargon, and abbreviations. (15)
    • Avoid tangential, extraneous, or non-relevant information (2)
    • Paraphrase where appropriate (2)
    • Use analogy (1)
    • Use proper spelling and grammar (4)
  • Be careful of your reading level (10)
  • The readability (visual perception) of your text is important (24).
    • Greater line height (10)
    • Greater line length (11)
    • Sans-serif fonts (6)
    • Greater contrast (9)
    • Greater font size (14)

Enhance Comprehension (80)

  • Use multi-modal or enhanced content (71)
    • Use images (54)
    • Use audio or multimedia (52)
  • Provide alternative formats for the user (47)
    • Provide captions to your media (8)
    • Provide text alternatives to non-text content (e.g., alternative text, longdesc, image captions). (16)
    • Provide transcripts (6)
    • Make sure your content is compatible with screen readers or other voicing mechanisms. (38)
  • Enhance the content understanding of your user (33)
    • Provide visual differences that enhance their understanding (e.g., use color, bold, font, focus, divider/rules) (17)
    • Provide summaries, introductions, or a table of contents (10)
    • Highlight or identify important information (15)
    • Define or explain terms (e.g., provide a glossary, define abbreviations and acronyms) (15)
  • Watch your presentation order as a way to enhance comprehension (7)
    • Order the most important or relevant items first (3)
    • Order your content from general to specific (3)
  • Use repetition to enhance comprehension (5)

Structure (29)

  • Use headings throughout your content (17)
  • Chunk, organize, or group your content (18)
  • Use lists to help provide meaningful structure (13)
  • Use whitespace to help identify structural elements (14)

Attention/Distraction (26)

  • Use elements that focus the attention of the user to content (12)
    • Use color for focus (3)
    • Use text size/face for focus (1)
    • Use movement or animation for focus (1)
    • Use non-text elements for focus (2)
  • Avoid distractions or the use of untraditional mechanisms that act to distract (21)
    • Avoid distracting animation or movement that distracts FROM content (9)
    • Avoid moving or animating text or content as the user may be unable to focus or read that content (3)
    • Avoid pop-up windows (5)
    • Avoid simultaneous tasks (3)