Read time: 1 minute 30 seconds

Describe and present content in a way that all users can interpret and understand.

  • Why it's important

    • Briana has low technical literacy. Briana needs a site’s layout to be clear.
    • Sebastián has low vision. Sebastián uses a screen reader to navigate the web.
    • Merindah has a newborn and attention is often divided. Merindah needs to understand a site’s contents at a glance.
    • Darren is in a crisis. Darren needs to quickly find the right advice.

Steps to take

  1. Read the Australian Government Content Guide on content structure.
  2. Write descriptive page titles. You can’t rely only on visual cues. Someone who uses an assistive technology like a screen reader might not be able to use visual cues to understand a page’s purpose. Make sure your page title explains what the page is for.
  3. Make sure you have good heading structure. Some people use headings to navigate.
  4. Headings must clearly describe the topic or the following section. Use section headings to organise the content.
  5. Use clear row and column headings for tables. This makes it easier to understand tabular information. It helps someone who uses a screen reader to navigate tables.
  6. Use lists as they help users skim content.
  7. If you need to show changes in language, for example, when you use a foreign word in a text that’s mostly English - follow the declaring language in HTML guide from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). This will help people understand your content. It helps people who use screen readers and people with cognitive disability. It also helps people using braille translation software.
  8. Check that the HTML document has a language attribute. This is so people who use a  screen reader can read it with the correct accent and pronunciation. For example: <htmllang="en">. If you’re not comfortable doing this, ask a developer on your project team to help.
  9. Use clear labels and instructions with forms. Labels must clearly describe what each part of the form does.
  10. Use a screen reader (or screen reader simulator) to check your work. Make sure you can still navigate. Check that what you’re hearing matches what’s on the screen.

Supporting resources

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

Next page: Plain language

Last update: 21 August 2019, editorial review.