Frequently Asked Questions on Digital Accessibility Topics

General Questions
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What level of accessibility does Johns Hopkins University require?

Johns Hopkins University follows the prevailing standard from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1, Level AA. This standard applies not just to websites, but to web applications developed or purchased by JHU, digital documents, videos, audio files, course content and other EIT (Electronic and Information Technology).

Whose responsibility is it to ensure accessible materials?

Website owners at JHU are responsible for the accessibility of their websites, web applications, documents, videos and other EIT. Every website owner is responsible, whether it’s a JHU division, department, initiative, program, or some other entity.

What is JHU’s commitment to digital accessibility?

JHU’s Commitment to Accessibility establishes conformance to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, Level AA.

How accessible do web pages need to be?

My department is redesigning its website. When should I start thinking about accessibility?

Accessibility needs to be a consideration from the beginning to end of a project. Ask potential vendors about their experience in creating accessible websites, consider accessibility in the site designs and templates, and make sure to perform automated and manual accessibility testing of the site as you develop it, and before launch. Accessibility is not a “one and done” effort — it is an ongoing process. Sites need to be regularly tested for accessibility even after they go live.

Accessible Procurement Questions
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What is a VPAT?

A VPAT is a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template. It is a document that an IT vendor supplies to a potential customer and describes how well the product conforms to accessibility standards. The VPAT is based on both Section 508 and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 AA standards.

The VPAT gives a purchasing customer information about where there might be accessibility issues in using the product.

What information do I need to obtain from product vendors about accessibility?

Please go to our Accessible Procurement webpage for detailed information.

Accessible Document Questions
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How do I check a document for accessibility?

Please go to our Accessible Documents webpage for detailed information.

What document formats are the most accessible?

Microsoft Office documents, when created with accessibility in mind, can be very accessible. HTML web pages can also be accessible to most, if they are designed for accessibility. PDFs can be made accessible, but are generally not as accessible so consider other formats before saving as a PDF.

Web Accessibility Questions
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What other website accessibility checking tools are available?

You can use the free tools WAVE or ANDI to conduct automated tests of your website.

How do I sign up for Siteimprove for checking my department’s site?

If you are a website administrator, you can contact to get set up to use Siteimprove

What kind of Siteimprove accessibility score should I be aiming for?

JHU websites should have a minimum accessibility score of 80. We encourage you to go beyond the minimum to find ways to make your website more fully inclusive.

How do I check for color contrast?

There are a number of free tools available, including the WAVE Color Contrast tool and the TPGi Color Contrast Analyzer.

Do I need to check mobile sites for accessibility?

Yes. The MDN Mobile Accessibility Checklist is a good place to start.