Useful Websites and Downloads for Accessible Design

UPDATE: I have moved to Google, as many of my institution's groups are hosted there. I'll still check back here from time to time, but for the most up-to-date information, please visit Accessible Design Google Group


Federal Section 508 (Web Accessibility)
This is the home page for the federal site governing web accessibility guidelines. Currently, the guidelines are mandatory for federal agencies but voluntary for most academic institutions. Key sections to review include 508 and You and 508 Training. You can sign up for free membership in the 508 Universe to access training modules. You may also want to review information from Section 255, as the federal government will be merging these two sections in the near future, as outlined in the draft of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Standards and Guidelines.

Federal Section 255 (Telecommunications)
This is the Federal Communications Commission's consumer fact page related to Section 255, related to telecommunications access for people with disabilities. The site includes products and services covered under the act, background information, definitions, frequently asked questions, and information about how to file a complaint.

Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act
Excellent example of a statewide effort to promote accessibility, as noted at its site: "IITAA requires the State to establish and follow specific, functional accessibility standards and to address accessibility proactively." The site includes implementation guidelines and resources for design and securing financing for software and hardware purchases.

Evaluate Your Site or Content

Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools
A guide and resource for evaluating website accessibility from the World Wide Web Consortium

Web Markup Validity
A guide and resource for evaluating the markup validity of sites and documents (such as HTML, XHTML, SMIL, MathML) from the World Wide Web Consortium

Design Tips

Free HTML editors
Links to and evaluations of various free HTML and WYSIWYG editors along with useful tips

Adobe® Acrobat Accessibility Training Resources
Resources include PDF documents on a wide range of accessibility topics, useful whether you use Adobe® Professional or the generic PDF options available in Microsoft® Word.

Using Styles in Microsoft® Word 2007
Video and text-based demonstrations of many features available in Styles.

Blogs, Twitters, and Wikis

WebAIM Blog
Originally hosted by Jared Smith, now hosted by Aaron Anderson of Utah State University, an excellent resource, with archives dating back to 2006

A11Y Twitter
Follow Jon Gibbins' Twitter on accessibility topics from around the web, based in the United Kingdom. Gibbins is a moderator for Accessify and a member of the Guild of Accessible Web Designers

Accessibility @ Educause
A wiki created by members of the IT Accessibility Constituent Group at Educause to promote and discuss accessibility in preparation for the Educause 2010 conference, see also Conferences in this wiki

Free Downloads

Non-Visual Desktop Access (NVDA)
Free screen reader with synthetic speech and Braille

Free digital recorder with options to export in MP3 and Ogg Vorbis formats

Free add on to create podcasts from Audacity files

Free avatar software for audio narrations

Primo PDF
Free PDF creator that works for word processing, slide show, and spreadsheet conversion, also free software to convert PDFs to Microsoft Word and Excel format

PDF Hammer
Also from the folks at Primo PDF, a free program that will allow you to edit PDF documents

Why bother with accessibility?