See Standards & agreements

Accessibility of websites and online documents

The University of Twente works hard to make its websites and (online) documents as accessible as possible. As an organization that is partly state funded, we are very much aware that we serve the public interest. In your role as an administrator of the university’s web pages, this is something of which you should also be aware.

Why do we need regulations on accessibility?

By applying the government’s digital accessibility guidelines (Digitoegankelijk), websites and web applications (online office documents included) become accessible to the general audience (citizens, companies and other governments), employees and students. People with dyslexia and visual impairments (e.g. blindness, colour blindness) can have the same access to government information as people without these limitations. Accessibility is also becoming increasingly important to the elderly people who make up a large proportion of the population. Additionally, the way we take in online information (i.e. because of the use of tablets and smartphones) is changing because of developments in technology.

As an organization governed by public law, which serves the public interest and falls under the provisions of the General Administrative Law Act, the University of Twente must also comply with the Accessibility of Websites and Apps (Temporary Measures) Decree. (See also Article 1 of the Decree: https://zoek.officielebekendmakingen.nl/stb-2018-141.html – in Dutch only – which came into force on 1 July 2018).

What's it all about?

content

The definitions (see above link) contain the elements which must comply with the rules of the Decree. These cover all content: the entire body of information that an organization wishes to transmit on a website or app, including text, downloadable documents, forms and interactive elements, such as the processing of digital forms and the completion of identification procedures. Article 2 of the Decree lists those elements which are NOT covered by the rules of the Decree.

phases

A phased approach has been taken to implementation: see Article 6 of the Decree.

  • Websites published from 23 September 2018 are required to comply by 23 September 2019.
  • Websites published before 23 September 2018 are required to comply by 23 September 2020.
  • Apps have to meet the criteria no later than 23 June 2021.

Office documents on websites published before 1 January 2015 do not have to be made accessible. Documents published online between 1 January 2015 and 23 September 2018 do have to meet the accessiblity guidelines but only if the text describes a current administrative process. As from 23 September 2018 it is mandatory to publish accessible documents only.

In this respect, no distinction is made between internal (intranet) documents and external documents. 

Comply or explain

Paragraphs 2-4 of Article 3 offer the option of refraining from applying standard EN 301 549 if this presents disproportionate problems for the organization. You can invoke this option if you are convinced that the expected benefits of applying the standard are outweighed by the organizational or financial costs involved. In our accessibility statement, we refer to the large number of managers (over than 1000) and the same number of websites. From an organizational perspective, this situation ensures that the University of Twente cannot guarantee complete accessibility despite its best efforts.

The most important tips

general

Information on the website (and therefore also in Office documents online) must always be Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust (POUR).

publisher (CMS) WebHare

  • Remove what is no longer relevant. Otherwise you run the risk that the page the user is searching for will be difficult to find, especially if there are many similar documents or older versions on the website. Do you prefer not to delete any pages? Do not put the pages offline, but archive them on your computer.
  • Upload as few files as possible to the website. Preferably you should make sure that the information is on a webpage, but not offered as a download.
  • Buttons should have a certain minimum size so that people with limited motor skills (e.g. due to illness or medication) can click them easily.
  • Photos on websites should always come with a description, so that users with a visual impairment can find out the content of the photo because their screen reader tells them what the text says.
  • Always provide subtitles for videos content.
  • Always open links in the same screen to avoid any problems with support programs. (If users want to open links in a new screen they can do this themselves by right-clicking).
  • Do not list downloadable files in a website menu. If you want users to download files, it is best to provide this information in an accompanying sentence on screen. There are two ways of doing this:
    • Option 1: Use the website component Download/Links (available as inline component or widget). Option 2: Save the downloadable file without a title in a folder in the Publisher and refer to it using a link. 
    • Option 2: Make sure that all pages also appear in the menu structure of the website. Otherwise it is not clear to users where they are on the website and how they can navigate to a higher or lower level.
  • Make sure that every page on the website is visible in the menu as well. Otherwise it is not clear for users where they are on the website and how they are able to navigate through different levels.
  • When you add a chart, do not make them too wide (preferably a maximum of 4 columns).

office documents

  • Remove what is no longer relevant. Otherwise you run the risk that the document the user is searching for will be difficult to find, especially if there are many similar documents or older versions on the website.
  • Preferably use the webform in WebHare instead of a form in a Word document.
  • Word documents that you put online should be saved in .odt format (open document text) instead of .doc or .docx. Not everyone has the Office software you need, to open them. Same counts for Excel (save as .ods) and Powerpoint (.odp).
  • In Acrobat Pro there is a tool (‘Accessibility’) that is able to check whether your PDF is accessible. You can find it under Tools > Accessibility > Full check.

Making office documents accessible

Making Office files perfectly accessible is a complicated business, but there are a number of quick wins that you can easily apply yourself. Watch the tutorial video below for a step-by-step explanation.


The user has the right to receive an accessible document from the University of Twente and to request such a document if necessary. In the latter case, Marketing & Communication can help to make a document accessible. 

University of Twente accessibility declaration

The University of Twente has drawn up a concise accessibility statement describing the current efforts to make www.utwente.nl accessible.

Sources and interesting websITES