Getting Started

Design a site using best practices

Plan your site before you begin. Use best practices in Web design to make your website functionally accessible. Use Cascading Style Sheets, create proper headings, label graphics, and structure the site and its content logically from the beginning of the development stage. Consult our list of online resources as you plan and design your site.

The ACCC Instructional Technology Lab provides training and support for developing accessible websites (itl@uic.edu).

Use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

Using CSS is an important part of making a site functionally accessible. Style sheets maintain consistency and allow users to make adjustments to the site to make it easier to read and navigate. The ACCC Instructional Technology Lab (ITL) and the Digital Accessibility Committee sponsor training on Cascading Style Sheets. The ITL also provides ongoing support for those needing information on CSS.

Use Structured HTML

A simple definition according to IBM’s Structured HTML and CSS-based Web site templates is “HTML that is well-formed and uses elements with semantic value.” It further outlined some checks to ensure that you are creating structured HTML including:

  • Using heading elements (<h1> through <h6>) to denote a hierarchy of headings.
  • Putting lists of things, especially menus, inside proper list forms.
  • Ensuring that all of the text is inside an appropriate HTML element, such as a paragraph.
  • Creating true data tables by adding the semantic elements that define structure, such as summaries and table heads.
  • Removing every piece of presentational markup from your HTML code. Note: <strong> and <em> are the correct semantic elements that replace <bold> and <italic>.
  • Placing all the presentation details in external CSS files.

Illinois Center for Information Technology Accessibility (iCITA) has a summary of HTML elements that help stucture a site.

Provide a Way to Contact the Webmaster

Web pages must include webmaster contact information.

Use the following statement somewhere on the page:

“Having problems accessing this site? Contact the webmaster.”

If at all possible, accessibility concerns should be addressed within 24 hours of receipt of the request. If you require assistance in making your information accessible, contact the Digital Accessibility Committee for assistance.

In addition, the UIC Identity Standards require websites to provide easy-to-find contact information for the unit. This contact information should include a general information phone number, a general information email address and the unit’s postal address. The best way to handle this is with a “Contact Us” link on every page. While a list of department faculty or staff can also be very helpful, make it clear whom a user should contact for general information.