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Making websites and applications accessible

Design websites and applications so they're accessible to everyone.


  • Structural formatting like headings, tables, and lists that allow users to navigate the website or application.
  • Descriptive text that explains pictures, charts, and graphs to users.
  • Layout, design and color that makes the application and content accessible to use and understand.

The principle concepts of website or application accessibility will help you meet the State of Minnesota Accessibility standard. The instructions outlined in the Resource section relate specifically to websites and applications.

Did you know?

Accessibility standards not only help you meet a wider audience, but they also make your solutions:

  • More searchable
  • More interoperable with mobile devices
  • More usable with voice recognition


An accessible website starts with gathering requirements and creating an accessible design. Building accessibility features into your website from the beginning saves time, effort and money. You must also have a general understanding of the users and how they will interact with your website or application. The following links provide tools that can help:



Incorporate accessibility into all your System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) processes: requirements analysis, design, implement, test and deploy.

Building accessibility into web and application development

WCAG 2.0 Top Ten Check Points webinar Understanding the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0), why and when the guidelines are important, and how to apply them is addressed in the WCAG 2.0 Top Ten Check Points webinar. This webinar provides an introduction to WCAG 2.0 for web application developers and business analysts. (Audio Transcript PDF)

Validators and Testing Tools 

Testing for accessibility along the way can help to identify problems early in the process.  While there are many aspects to accessibility testing and validation, there are also many tools available. 

The worldwide web consortium (W3C) has posted an open call to tools and resources for evaluating web accessibility. Keep in mind that anyone can post their tool and there is no review or feedback mechanism: W3C's Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools List.

Here is a shortlist of some tools that we've found helpful.

(Note: When using these tools, be sure to note carefully what standards (if any) a particular product follows – such as WCAG 1.0 instead of the more recent 2.0. This list does not constitute endorsement of any particular product or service. All tools have free versions available.

Plugins and Extensions:

Color and Contrast

Analysis and Reporting

Captioning and Media

Validation Tools



Accessible websites tend to work better in mobile environments. As agencies create more responsive sites and mobile apps, accessibility works hand in hand with good design and development practices. 

Some quick resources:

Apple and Google’s Accessibility API Docs (source: Paul J. Adam)

Mobile developers reference guide (source: MN.IT innovation program)

BBC’s mobile accessibility guidelines

Comprehensive list of resources for mobile OS designers, developers, and evaluators.

Digitalgov's mobile application development program.



Online Training and References

Other Organizations in Minnesota