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When adding headings to web pages, content editors must follow the correct sequence. An H1, or heading tag, always will be added automatically when the page is created and named. The page title serves as the H1 tag, and will be read first by screen readers.

If information is useful to be displayed in a sequential order or in groups editors should structure a page using H2 headings first, then if additional subheadings are required, use H3, H4, etc. This allows screen readers to understand the pattern of information and the correct order.

After each section or grouping, another H2 may be added and that same information structure can be repeated.

A screen reader will read all of the H2 tags first to allow the user to choose which heading is most relevant to read further into, just like an eye scans a page's headings before reading further.

Text Attributes 

The Bold button should only be used for emphasizing entire sentences within a paragraph. The Italics button should only be used for emphasizing a single word within a sentence. Do not use the Underline attribute within Whitman's site because it  confuses a word that is not a link for a link. Do not add bold, italics or link to a heading. Do not substitute a heading for a bold or italic word or grouping of words.


Links should be named by the content within the link. Do not be general when naming links. For example, never use "click here" as a link. Instead name the link to what the user will find after clicking the link.

For search engine optimization (SEO) best practices, check the "Open link in a new tab" option only when adding links that are external to whitman.edu. Do not check the "Open link in a new tab" option when linking to pages within whitman.edu.

Plain Language

Write in plain language as part of web accessibility. The communications office can provide help for Ingeniux users who need assistance with web page content.

Choose to write using plain language instead of excessively detailed descriptions; this helps keep the the users' overall website experience less cumbersome. Write text for your target audience. Think about what they need to know and how they need to get there.

Visual Instructions

When writing text, do not give instructions that use shape, size or page location descriptions like  "click the blue button." Instructions with visual cues confuse screen readers and make it difficult for users who have visual impairments.

To ensure that screen readers can understand the image that is on the web, they must contain informative alternate text. Within Ingeniux, a field for alt text is available and required. If you are adding an image that contains text like a poster or ad with dates and events, the alt text as well as the body content must contain all of the same information that appears on the image.

If you upload an image of a group of students, faculty, staff or alumni on campus, the location of the photo, the name of the group featured, and any significant landmarks are an acceptable alternative text.  For example,  "Four biology sophomores prepare to look through a telescope on the roof of the Science Building." 

Video editors must provide synchronized captions for all live multimedia containing audio, audio-only broadcasts, web casts, videos, video conferences and Flash animations.

Also, if a video is uploaded to the website, it must be captioned using a captioning service like those provided by YouTube or Vimeo. It is recommended that you manually enter captions, and then use the auto sync function instead of using the auto captioning services provided on YouTube or Vimeo. Videos must be captioned before you upload your videos or link them to the website.


No page content should flash more than three times per second unless the flashes emit low contrast and do not contain much red. Our site does not use incorporate flashing media but uploaded or embedded content from a third-party source must comply with the W3 Standards for acceptable flash thresholds. Contact the communications office before uploading anything that flashes.

Timed content

Users need the option to turn off, adjust or extend the time limit of a page or element with timed content.

Real-time streamed events do not need to meet this requirement.

Users of our website must have the option to pause, stop or hide automatically moving, blinking, or scrolling content lasting longer than five seconds. 

Our site does not use timed content but if that changes, we must comply with all time-based guidelines.

Audio control

There should be a way to stop, pause, mute, or adjust volume for any audio that plays on a Whitman page for more than 3 seconds.

Vimeo and YouTube both provide options for this.

When creating electronic documents they must be readable for people with disabilities. 

It's always better to create a webpage for your content instead of posting an electronic document when possible.

All Word or Google documents will be converted to PDFs. Excel files may be used.

Naming the File

Use a descriptive file title when naming your documents. Never use spaces. Instead, use dashes or underscores in your file names.

Inaccessible file names:

My agenda.pdf
cv for profile.pdf

Accessible examples:


Document Title

Always set the title in documents. In Microsoft Word go to File/Properties and click the Summary tab. In Adobe Acrobat go to File/Properties and click the Description tab.

Document Language

The language of a document must be set to make sure the screen reader uses the correct language profile. In Microsoft Word, go to the Review tab / Language.

If your document contains more than one language, select the text within the document in the different language and set that text to the appropriate language.


Headings provide the organization content for your document. Using headings gives users with disabilities the ability to navigate a document if it is organized correctly. The most important heading is Heading 1.  Heading 1 is usually the title and is used only once. Next use a Heading 2, then a Heading 3, and so on, for as many breaks in content as are necessary.


List content should utilize the tools within the toolbar where you are creating your document. Unordered lists use bullets and ordered lists use numbers.

Ordered (numbered)

  1. Attend Whitman College.
  2. Graduate.
  3. Get my dream job.

Unordered (bullets)

  • Cereal
  • Milk
  • Bread

Alternative text

Alternative text or alt text is used to describe the content of an image for users who cannot see it.

To set the alternative text in Word, select or click on the image and go to Format/ Picture. Right-click the Layout and Properties and fill in the Description field under Alt text.


We highly recommend not using tables on the website whenever possible.

If you must use a table, use of tables for tabular data. A data table is a table where row headers, column headers, or both are present.

Keep data tables simple with clearly defined columns and rows. Do not merge or split cells in data tables.

Always set the header row in data tables so a  screen reader can follow the organization of the information. Make sure the first row of the table is set as the header row, or where the table's categories are listed. To add a table header in Microsoft Word, select the first row, right-click and select Table Properties, and check "Repeat as header row at the top of each page." This places the heading tag within the table.

Tools to Avoid

Microsoft Word tools such as Text Box, Quick Parts, WordArt, Watermarks and Drop Caps are NOT accessible formatting tools. Do not use a formatting tool that places a letter into a Text Box. A screen reader will not recognize this as text to be read.

PDF Forms

If you have forms in electronic documents, they must be converted to PDF web form.  If you don't know how to do this yourself, use the  web change request form so a member of the communications web team can do it for you.

Check Accessibility

ALWAYS check your documents with an Accessibility Checker tool and fix any errors (and warning where possible).

To access the Accessibility Checker in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, go to Tools/Check Accessibility and in Acrobat go to Tools/Accessibility.

If you don't have access to the tool, send your document via the web content change request and someone from the office of communications can check it for you before posting.

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