Basics: Create an accessible SharePoint site

So, your team now has SharePoint 2013. You want to create a site, and you want everyone to be able to use it, including the people with disabilities.

Screenshot of new SharePoint site showing tiles used for customizing site

You’re in luck. SharePoint 2016 makes it easier for you to get the color contrast right, add alternative text and so on – all the items you see on many accessibility checklists. In addition, SharePoint is tested thoroughly to make sure that, out of the box, people can use the sites without a mouse. You can move around any SharePoint page and use any button or command by using only the keyboard

This article is for people who use SharePoint for ordinary tasks, such as collaboration or a document library. It doesn’t assume that you have any special skills, just everyday knowledge about your computer.

Want to create an accessible SharePoint site? Let’s get started.

What do you want to do?

First step – create a new site

Brand your site with a title, description and logo

Make your site look great with an accessible theme

Use the built-in accessible theme

Customize your own color combination

Check the accessibility of your choice

Next steps

First step – create a new site

To create a site, follow these steps.

  1. On the navigation bar at the top of the page, click Sites.

  2. On the Sites page, click new site.

Nistes page in SharePoint Online, showing the New Site button

  1. In the Start a new site dialog box, give your site a name, and then click Create.

    Tips: 

    • The first time you click Sites, you see some site setup screens and instructions while your personal site is being set up. You may have to wait awhile and then click Sites again before continuing to the next step.

    • Depending how your site is set up, you might have to name another person who can also manage your site, and specify how secure the content has to be.

Your site is created in a location that your administrator predefined, and the site will appear among the sites you’re following. Your site will not inherit any permission or navigation settings from other sites. After you create the site, you can add documents and images, share your site with others, change the look, and make everything accessible.

Brand your site with a title, description and logo

When you create a SharePoint site, one of the first steps is to give it a title, description, and logo. This is the first step toward accessibility because you add a text alternative (alt text) for an image, the image that you use for a logo. Alt text is one of the most important things you can do to make a web site accessible. Assistive technologies like screen readers read alt text aloud for people who can’t see the screen.

To make the logo image accessible, just write a description for it. SharePoint uses the description to create alt text in HTML for you.

  1. Click Settings Office 365 Settings button > Site Settings.

  2. Under Look and Feel, select Title, description, and logo.

  3. Enter a title and description.

SharePoint Online new site title dialog box

  1. Enter the location for the logo image file, and then create the description.

    SharePoint Online new site title and logo dialog, showing how to create alt text for logo image

  2. Click OK.

    When you go back to your site home page, you’ll see the results.

Make your site look great with an accessible theme

The next step toward accessibility is about color and contrast. Color and contrast are important for accessibility. People with low vision, such as those with macular degeneration, need a certain amount of contrast to be able to see what’s on the screen. It’s also important to be careful with color selection, because colorblind people can’t tell the differences between certain colors. For example, someone who has red-green color-blindness sees red and green as the same color.

To make this step easy, SharePoint comes with a collection of themes that are ready to use. If you haven’t used themes before, a theme is a collection of color choices, page layout, font, and so on.

Use the built-in accessible theme

  1. On the newly created site, click the tile with What’s your style?

Newly created site in SharePoint online, showing clickable tiles for further customizing site

  1. On the Change the look page, scan through the available templates.

SharePoint Online page that shows site template images

  1. To choose a fully accessible, tested theme for color and contrast, select the Office theme.
    If you choose the Office theme, you don’t have to test the color. If you want to use a different theme, see the next section, Customize your own color combination to find information about how to create an accessible color combination.

  2. The theme you chose appears on the next page. To see more, click Try it out. Or, to pick a different theme, click Start Over.

Customize your own color combination

If you want to use a different theme, it’s possible to choose a different color combination that’s accessible. You’ll have to test it to be sure that it’s accessible, but the test tools are easy to use.

To customize your colors after you choose a theme, just look for the Color menu on the page that shows your theme.

  1. Click the down arrow in the color box to see the built-in options:

Screenshot of color choice menu on a new SharePoint site

  1. Select one, and then click Try it out to see an image with your chosen colors.

  2. If you like it, click Yes, keep it. If you want to change it, click No, not quite there to go back.

Check the accessibility of your choice

To be certain your choice is accessible, you should check to make sure. To check the contrast, you can use one of the free tools from a trusted website. Here are several options that you can use.

Next steps

To find more resources about accessibility, go to Get ready - Build an accessible SharePoint site

To learn about adding to your new site, go to Add accessible content and images to your site

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