A child looking at his friends playing soccer, the child's friends are out of focus.



Better UN websites for everyone

Accessible websites benefit everyone, not just those with disabilities. On an accessible website, the user is put at the centre of the experience. Text is more readable. Content is better organized. The design is clean and simple. This website will show you how to make your site accessible, and make it better for all, by using the latest web technology.

The General Assembly has designated the Department of Global Communications as the focal point for web accessibility in the United Nations. This site is part of DGC's effort to fulfil its mandate and promote web accessibility in the UN system.


When writing for the web, write simply. Use clear, concise language. Limit your word count. Organize your content so it can be easily followed. This will make your website more accessible and help users understand your content. It will also keep them on your site to look at more content.

Learn more » about accessible content.


Websites are not experienced the same way by everyone who visits them. Someone with disabilities may not see the images on a page. Or they may not recognize color. This is why you should design your website to make it accessible. This ensures that every element of the site is recognized, and your content is clearly understood.

Learn more » about accessible design.


There is technology to make websites accessible, from special devices, such as screen readers, to popular devices like smartphones and tablets, which have special software built in. Accessibility can also be achieved by structuring content, so it can be read and understood without style sheets, and by using proper markup.

Learn more » about accessible technology.


A General Assembly Mandate

In order to make information on the United Nations and its activities available to the widest range of audiences, and in keeping with resolutions of the General Assembly, the Department of Global Communications (DGC) is actively pursuing accessibility of the United Nations website by persons with disabilities. The objective of DGC is to comply with the Web Content Accessibility guidelines of the World Wide Web Consortium standards, which at the present time are the only standards with worldwide recognition.

Following the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 13 December 2006 (resolution 61/106), the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to progressively implement standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services of the United Nations System. To assist other departments and offices in producing accessible web content, those guidelines were prepared by a task force composed of members of the Web Services Section of DGC.

What is Web Accessibility?

"Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the Web. Web accessibility encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the Web, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities." (Source: W3C).

Persons with disabilities are faced with many challenges when using the Internet and some use assistive technologies to help them access information. For instance, persons with visual impairments may use screen magnifiers or screen readers that read out loud the content of a page or translate it on a Braille display. Persons with mobility impairment may be unable to use a mouse and resort to using the keyboard or another assistive device to surf the web.

Special attention needs to be dedicated to web accessibility in the web design process to ensure a site is usable by persons with different types of disabilities, using a wide range of assistive technologies.

Costs and Benefits

Making a website accessible to disabled persons requires technical expertise in web design and accessibility issues.

Creating accessible pages takes more time. However, it is much more productive to consider this aspect at the start of a project than to modify an existing, inaccessible site.

It should also be noted that accessible websites carry other benefits. They are:

Accessibility Validation

There are a number of automatic validation tools that can provide partial accessibility validation. They can be used for preliminary validation purposes. A list of such tools is referenced on the W3C website.

Once the issues identified with an automated tool are solved, it is imperative to complete the evaluation manually. See the Validation Procedures.

The present guidelines are based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 of the W3C.

The principle of inclusion in web accessibility

"Full and effective participation and inclusion in society" is one of the general principles that underlie the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and each one of its articles. The goal of inclusion signifies that there is an obligation to create environments that provide access to all aspects for all people on an equal basis.

The concept of inclusion is linked with "universal design", which is defined in the Convention as "the design of products, environments, programmes and services to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design".

Therefore, every effort should be made to create universally accessible pages. The use of alternative, accessible versions should be kept to a minimum, as a last resort.

If, after best efforts, you cannot create an accessible page, provide a link to an alternative page that uses W3C technologies, is accessible, has equivalent information (or functionality), and is updated as often as the inaccessible (original) page.

Ensure that equivalents for dynamic content are updated when the dynamic content changes.

Provide a clear link to alternative version(s) at the top of each page

Providing the link at the top of the page means that the user does not have to wade through inaccessible content to find the alternative version. You should also provide a link to allow the user to navigate directly back to the original version.

Use scripts to automatically detect different browsers and present appropriate versions of web pages

A 'browser detect' is a script which can detect the type of browser used by a visitor to a site. If a browser detect is used in combination with alternative versions, it is possible to present the user with a version of the page which works well in their browser. Note that it is not possible to detect if the user is using a screen reader, because it is not a browser.

Use server-side scripts to generate alternative pages on demand

Server-side scripts, such as Java servlets, or PHP, can be used to create alternative presentations of a page if the user requests one through the browser. The benefit of providing alternative pages in this way is that there is no requirement to maintain different 'versions' of a website, which reduces the maintenance effort and ensures that up-to-date content is delivered to the user, regardless of the version selected.