Software Accessibility Guidelines

Software to be developed, purchased or acquired by the University of Minnesota must be accessible to persons with disabilities.

Keyboard Access

  • Key combinations used within an application must be consistent throughout the application;
    adhere to standard operating system conventions;
    and avoid conflict with standard operating system accessibility features/keystrokes.
  • Only Shift, Alt, and Control must be used as application defined accelerator/modifier keys.
  • Standard keyboard navigation functionality must be maintained.

Interface Objects, Elements and Labels

  • Standard operating system controls are used that provide clear, correct and concise object identification.
  • Accessibility coding is included to provide information regarding the state of an object/control.

Font, Size and Color

  • A variety of display options (e.g., font, size, color and background) are provided.
  • Patterned backgrounds are disabled when a high-contrast setting is selected.
  • Visual-only indicators alone are not used to convey information.

Audio Alerts

  • An option to use visual cues for audio alerts is provided.
  • Application does not conflict with operating system accessibility features.

Volume Control

  • A volume control option for audio output is provided.
  • Application respects system volume settings.

Animations and Multimedia

  • Multimedia includes captioning.
  • Multimedia includes audio description.
  • Audio content is accompanied by a transcript.
  • An option for disabling animations or multimedia is provided.

Blinking Elements and Marquees

  • An option for disabling or adjusting the frequency of blinking/flashing screen elements is provided.
  • An option for disabling or adjusting the rate at which screen elements scroll is provided.

Response Times

  • Important notifications and messages are displayed until the user makes a response.
  • Users are notified of pending time-outs and one or more of the following options is provided.
    • A method for indicating that more time is needed.
    • A method for adjusting the time interval.
    • A non-time dependent alternative.


  • Application help files contain accessibility information, including such topics as keyboard navigation and user preference settings. Note: Documentation on standard system keyboard navigation is optional.
  • "Accessibility" is included as both a keyword search and help topic item.
  • "Keyboard Shortcuts" or similar entry is included as both a keyword search and help topic item.
  • Instructions for completing a task include information for both mouse and keyboard users.
  • When documentation is not included in an accessible electronic format, documentation must be provided in an accessible format upon request.

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