About a11y.colorado.edu

This site is a collection of specific accessibility issues with references to accessibility standards. It is not a general introduction to accessibility. For more general information on accessibility, you can visit the resources section on the Accessibility and Usability Lab (AUL) site, or conduct a Google search to find a number of resources on the topic. In using a11y.colorado.edu there is an assumption that you understand some vocabulary and concepts related to assistive technology for blind and low vision users, and how blind and low vision users interact with websites and web-based applications.

The work on the database began in 2015; it is lead by Amelia Dickerson and supported by the rest of the AUL staff. The site is a custom CMS built on Drupal 7, running on a VM maintained by CU Boulder OIT Shared Infrastructure Services.

How to Find What You Are Looking For

On the a11y homepage, you will find links for “WCAG,” “Issues,” and “Issues Related to WCAG.”


Under WCAG, you will find all four principles with some description of each. If you click on one of the four principles, you will find a list of the guidelines that apply to the principle, with some explanation of each guideline. Finally, if you click on the list of success criteria that apply to each guideline, you will go to a page with more explanation of the success criterion, as well as an external link to a page with all information about the success criterion. There will also be internal links from each issue to the relevant principles, guidelines, and success criteria.


The Issues page contains a table with a descriptive title of each issue, the impacted assistive technologies, and a short description. Just above the table is a search box to help find the issue you want. When you click on an issue, you will go to a page with several ways of describing the issue. An issue has an accessibility and a usability problem if it fails at least one success criterion. An issue has only a usability problem if it causes someone using assistive technology problems, but it does not violate any specific success criterion. In the Accessibility and Usability Lab, we test with both blind and low vision users, with both screen magnification and reader assistive technologies, and on both computer and mobile operating systems, so there is information about which people and technologies the issue impacts. Someone who is low vision might use both screen reading and magnification software, while someone is blind generally uses only screen reading software. Screen magnification software enlarges a portion of the screen at one time, while screen reading software converts text and such information on the screen into audible form. For more information, read the article about assistive technology on the AUL site. Some issues include general recommendations. Recommendations are general, because developers are using a wide variety of platforms and tools, and we cannot make suggestions for each one of them. We are experts on the problem, while you are an expert on the code that you are creating. We are telling you about problems that come up, trusting that you will find a way to fix them. There are also links to all the relevant parts of WCAG 2.0 and related issues. The related issues can be helpful in finding the correct issue if the one you just read was not the right one.

Issues Related to WCAG

The Issues Related to WCAG page has all of the success criteria with the relevant issues below it. There are links to a full description of the success criteria and the issues.

What a11y is not

We describe what problems look like from the user’s perspective, but we do not provide exact solutions. We recognize that everyone is using different tools and has different levels of control over what they are using, so we cannot provide a solution to everyone. We focus on the realm in which we are experts, and that is the blind and low vision user experience. We provide information to people who are the experts in working with and modifying each website or application. The experts in each tool can find ways to solve the problem. In addition, there is a techniques document for every WCAG 2.0 success criterion.



In the simplest terms, web accessibility means that everyone can use the internet (not an official definition) We focus specifically on how people who are blind or low vision are able to access online content at CU Boulder.

Assistive Technology

Blind and low vision users predominantly use screen reader and screen magnification software and braille displays. We focus our work on the first 2 kinds of software, because of a lack of time and resources and because if screen reading software works, a braille display usually does as well. To learn more about assistive technology, visit http://www.colorado.edu/accessibility/2016/05/19/screen-reader-and-magni...