Best Practices


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Accessibility Best Practices

We provide best practices on how you as a SMC Editor can make the website accessible. 


This information was adapted from the Cal Making Your Website Accessible page on their Web Access site.

Saint Mary's is committed to making our website accessible to all readers.  There are a few common formatting practices which are not accessible. This tutorial will help you understand and use best practices for our visually-impaired students, faculty, staff and visitors. 

Include proper caption text for images.

Caption text should be provided for images, so that screen reader users can understand the message conveyed by the use of images on the page. This is especially important for informative images (such as infographics). When creating the caption text, the text should contain the message you wish to convey through that image, and if the image includes text, that text should also be included in the caption.

Think twice before using an infographic. If you upload an infographic also provide descriptive alternative text somewhere on the page so a screen reader can access the content.

Captions for Video

Any video uploaded to the Saint Mary's site must have captions. Learn how to add captions via YouTube. If you choose the automatic caption option, you will want to check the results for accuracy and edit as needed. For longer videos, Saint Mary's recommends 3PlayMedia. 


Give your links unique and descriptive names.

When including links in your content, use text that properly describes where the link will go. Using "click here" is not considered descriptive, and is ineffective for a screen reader user.

Just like sighted users scan the page for linked text, visually-impaired users can use their screen readers to scan for links. As a result, screen reader users often do not read the link within the context of the rest of the page. Using descriptive text properly explains the context of links to the screen reader user.

The most unique content of the link should be presented first, as screen reader users will often navigate the links list by searching via the first letter.

For example, if you are pointing visitors to a page called "About Us":

Try not to say: "Click here to read about our company." Instead, say: "To learn more about our company, read About Us."

Use headings correctly to organize the structure of your content.

Screen reader users can use heading structure to navigate content. By using headings correctly and strategically, the content of your website will be well-organized and easily interpreted by screen readers. Most of your text will be in paragraph format (Normal).  You can use occasional bolding to call out important information.

Be sure to adhere to the correct order of headings. Do not pick a header just because it looks good visually (which can confuse screen reader users).

Do not skip heading levels (e.g., go from Heading 3 to an Heading 5), as screen reader users will wonder if content is missing.