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Basic Accessibility Checklist

This checklist is intended to be a starting point for making documents and websites accessible. It should be used in conjunction with our associated tutorials. Related in-depth resources are linked throughout the checklist.

This checklist is not comprehensive. The MSU Digital Accessibility Policy requires full conformance with the Technical Guidelines. Please contact department support staff or digital accessibility liaisons with technical questions. (Download a PDF of the condensed checklist.)


Check that text, visual elements, and interactive elements have strong contrast against the page background. Providing enough contrast between the foreground and background enables readability for sighted individuals. Black on a white background is typically the best option because it has high contrast.


Check that color is not the only visual means of distinguishing a visual element. Any information conveyed by color should also be available in text. Pairing color with another indicator aims to ensure that sighted individuals who cannot distinguish between some colors can still understand the content. For example, charts and graphs could include patterns in addition to color.

Alternative Text

Alternative text (alt text) is required for all visuals that provide meaningful information, such as images, graphs, and charts. Descriptive alt text explains the image to provide a similar experience to that of a sighted individual. Images used solely for decoration should be given an empty alt tag.

Heading Styles

Use heading styles to designate content organization. Using headings (e.g., Heading 1, Heading 2) indicates the hierarchy of content. Predefined style headings in text editors enable clear understanding of the structure of the document or web page. Check that headings are in sequential order and that they do not skip a level. On long pages of content, consider using a table of contents to help readers jump more quickly between headings.

List Styles

Use bulleted or numbered list styles to denote list structure. This ensures consistent formatting and helps screen readers understand the content structure and organization.


Check that the purpose of the link can be determined from the link text alone. Link text like “click here” does not provide context to understand where the link is going. Use descriptive and meaningful link text. For example, link text for a registration form could be “sign up to attend the event.” It is not necessary to include “link” in link text because screen readers will say “link” before each link.


Format and use simple tables with column and row headers. Split nested tables up into simple tables, and do not use tables to control layout.


Supply multiple avenues for multimedia content as a method of delivering the same information to all individuals. Audio content should have a full transcript. Video content should have accurate captions, and an audio description that describes the visual information of the video.

Movement, Animations, and Flashing

For moving, blinking, or scrolling information that starts automatically, lasts more than five seconds, and is presented in parallel with other content, provide a mechanism to pause, stop, or hide it. Check that content does not contain anything that flashes more than three times in a one second period.

Shape, Size, and Position

Do not rely solely on references to shape, size, or position to describe content. Check that additional information is included in any instructions that allows individuals to understand them even if they cannot perceive shape, size, or position.

Keyboard Navigation

Check that content can be accessed without using a mouse. The tab key is typically used to navigate the interactive elements of a web page. The enter key, the spacebar, and the arrow keys are also commonly used.

Resize Text

Check that information and functionality is not lost when resizing text from 100% up to 200%. Resizing text must be achieved without the use of assistive technology, like a screen magnifier that increases the size of all content, or the zoom function in a browser. One example is to provide controls on the web page or application that allow change to text size. When text is resized up to 200%, check that there is no missing or overlapping content, and that horizontal scrolling is not required.