The ultimate accessible content checklist for web professionals: Part 2

  • Author: Access iQ ®
  • Date: 27 May 2013
  • Access: Free

Quick facts

While accessibility should be factored into any project in the planning stages, content is usually the most frequently updated element of a website and the quickest way to make or break its accessibility.

This is a checklist of all checklists for content managers, editors, writers, communications specialists working in accessibility.

Taken from our premium guide to web accessibility for content authors, we've broken down the top 14 topic areas you need to consider, into a comprehensive list of checklist items to get you started.

This is the second installment of a three-part series — see part one and part three.

Part 2 covers:

Foreign words and phrases

Identifying the language of a page is important for people who use screen readers or text-to-speech technology that converts text into synthetic speech. Because it affects pronunciation, you must use the right language code to identify text otherwise these assistive technologies won't know which language you are using.

See the complete topic on foreign words and phrases for content authors.

Acronyms and abbreviations

Acronyms and abbreviations are shortened versions of words that typically simplify long phrases, words or titles. On websites, they can be confusing for people who aren't familiar with them or have trouble seeing or understanding them.

  • If you are using abbreviations, remember to provide an explanation or definition of the abbreviation so that your audience can understand the terms.
  • For the first use of each unique abbreviation within a document:
  • Include the expanded form of the abbreviation followed by the abbreviation in brackets (e.g. Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)), or
  • Include an explanation of the abbreviation (e.g. ABS (anti-lock brakes)…)
  • Use the <abbr> element on its own without one of the previous recommendations with caution. The expanded form, which is available as a tool tip when a user moves their mouse over the abbreviation is not available to users who rely on keyboard only navigation.
  • The <acronym> element is depreciated in HTML5. Use <abbr> instead.
  • Don’t expand or explain abbreviations that have become part of everyday speech, such as 'P.S.' or ‘modem’.

See the complete topic on acronyms and abbreviations for content authors.

Unusual words or jargon

When presenting content for a specific audience that requires specialised terminology, it needs to be accessible to people who may not understand certain words or words presented in certain ways.

  • Use language that is simple to understand and easy to scan-read.
  • If you use jargon or specialist terms, provide an explanation immediately after the text.
  • If you use jargon or specialist terms, provide a link to its definition or to a glossary of terms.

See the complete topic on unusual words or jargon for content authors.


Ensure text can be read and understood by the widest possible range of users with or without the use of assistive technologies. To do this, take into account and address aspects of text presentation including language, unfamiliar or unusual words (jargon), abbreviations and acronyms, and instances where pronunciation affects the understanding of meaning.

  • Be aware of the reading level of your web content.
  • Modify text content where appropriate to be more readable.
  • Provide a text summary of complex content.
  • Supplement complex text with information in alternative formats.

See the complete topic on readability for content authors.


As some words are spelled the same but have different meanings and pronunciation, so when a screen reader comes across such a word, it may mispronounce the word and prevent the user from getting the right meaning. Therefore, it's important to provide the correct pronunciation of words so that the correct meaning is conveyed.

  • Provide explanations on how to pronounce words that are otherwise ambiguous in meaning:
    • Add a pronunciation guide in parentheses immediately after the word or phrase.
    • Link to a footnote that explains pronunciation.
    • Link to an internal or external glossary page.
  • Provide a user-controlled audio rendition of the word or phrase.
  • Use the <ruby> element.
  • Use diacritical marks that can be turned on and off.

See the complete topic on pronunciation for content authors.



Media Access Australia, as a leader in accessibility, has a wealth of resources for organisations looking to make their workplaces, systems and processes more accessible for people with disabilities.

These include expert guides such as the Service Providers' Accessibility Guide and Sociability: social media for people with a disability. We also have a dedicated web accessibility hub, Access iQ and provide professional accessibility services and practical advice. For those seeking professional development in web accessibility, we have partnered with the University of South Australia on the Professional Certificate in Web Accessibility