Common Questions on Web Accessibility

We've collected and answered most common questions about web and document accessibility below. Please feel free to contact us if you have further questions.

What Is Web Accessibility?

Web accessibility means that web, design and content developers create barrier-free websites and web applications so that people with disabilities can navigate, understand, perceive and interact with the Web. The disabilities that are addressed by web accessibility include physical, visual, auditory, speech, cognitive and neurological disabilities. Web accessibility can also benefit people without documented disabilities (ex. older people who might have vision challenges)

Why Should I Make My Websites Accessible?

Could you imagine your life without the Web? Many people cannot, and this shows how important the Web has become in our daily life. We use it for work, study, information, communication and more. Many people with disabilities would  also agree that the Web has changed their lives. For many people with disabilities, the Web provides many opportunities to get information and interact with other people that they were unable to in the past. However, the Web also provides many barriers to people with disabilities.

The CSU and SF State community includes many students, faculty and staff with disabilities. The CSU and SF State recognize the principal importance to provide equal access and equal opportunity to all its students and employees. Therefore, the CSU and SF State have implemented policies on web accessibility.

Additionally, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 require SF State to provide qualified individuals with disabilities equal access to all its programs, services, and activities. Access to the Internet and its resources is covered by the ADA. The need to make websites, web applications, and digital content accessible is also underscored by California Government Code 11135, which applies Section 508 requirements to the CSU.

What is the California State University (CSU) policy on web accessibility?

The CSU Accessible Technology Initiative (ATI), as mandated by Coded Memoranda AA-2015-22 (PDF), requires that all new and major redesign web projects will meet accessibility standards. New and updated administrative websites, web applications, and web content produced by the CSU or by third-party developers should, at a minimum, conform to baseline accessibility standards as defined in Section 508, which is based on WCAG 2.0.

Which set of Web Accessibility Standards does SF State follow?

SF State has adopted the CSU ATI Accessibility requirements that incorporates Section 508
More information on SF State's Web Accessibility Standards.

Why do we recommended using the SF State Web template and Drupal?

We strongly recommend using the SF State Web Template, which has been developed by University Communication in collaboration with Information Technology Services (ITS) web and mobile team and the SF State ATI team. It guarantees, if correctly used, that the basic features of a website such as navigation, search functions and layout structure are accessible to people with disabilities. By using the template you will pass many of the SF State Web Accessibility Checkpoints. We also recommend using Drupal, which is provided by ITS and uses the SF State template. Drupal is a content management system that helps you to edit your website in an easy way. 

What Is My Department Or Unit Required To Do?

For new websites:

All new websites need to be accessible to people with disabilities. If you are starting to create a new website, we strongly recommend using the SF State Web Template in Drupal. Before you can go live, we will assess your website, write you a report and offer you help and training if needed. We will also provide you with an automated assessment and/or provide you an account to use the automated assessment tool by yourself. For more information, visit the Web Accessibility Process for New Websites page. 

For existing or updated websites:

If you are making major changes to your website, (such as updating most of the content, transferring content to Drupal), you should also follow the process above. If you would like to continuously monitor your website, we can provide you with an account in the automated assessment tool Compliance Sheriff

How do I know if my website or web application is compliant?

The SF State ATI team has created a step-by-step web assessment process which helps you to assess your website and check for compliance.

How do I ensure mass emails that I send out are accessible?

The SF State ATI team has developed a resource to ensure that mass marketing emails are accessible. Please visit the resource on ensuring Accessibility of Mass Marketing emails

Where can I get assistance and/or training?

The ATI Team offers a variety of training and assistance in making your website accessible such as workshops, one-on-one training and online training resources. If you are interested in training, please email us at

Access to the automated assessment tool

The ATI team has acquired an automated web accessibility assessment tool called Compliance Sheriff. We use this web application in our website assessment review, but we also provide access to the tool for the SF State Campus Community for ongoing monitoring of their websites. If you would like to request an account, please contact us at and provide your full name, email address and department.

One-on-one training

We provide training on the Manual Accessibility Review, on fixing accessibility issues on your websites and on document accessibility. We are also happy meet with you to discuss website development, usability and design questions, and other questions regarding accessibility of your website.


If you would like to request training for your unit/department, please contact us at Please specify how many people will participate, what your skill level(s) is, which subject you would like to be trained on and potential dates/times for the training.