Suggestions to help

  • users of web pages
  • people using a screen reader to hear the contents of a page
  • other users with different kinds of impairment e.g. motor skills, hearing etc.

The suggestions are also there to improve Search Engine Optimisation and Usability.

20 things you need to know about Accessibility, SEO and usability



Good for…


A URL should be made up of lowercase words, with hyphens rather than underscores.
  • Easier for the user;
  • Search engines have also recommended we drop the underscores from URLs. This means that when creating a new Silva document or Folder, always ensure the ID is in lowercase and where relevant, use hyphens, not underscore.
Don’t use full URLs in text e.g. http://www.centre-for-therapy.orgInstead describe the URL and make a link to it.
  • Search engines can index the link and not ignore it.
  • Instead you could write:Centre for Therapy
SEO and accessibility
Group content in ‘bite-sized’chunks.

Easier to scan and less off-putting than a large amount of text.

Give the ‘chunks’ a heading.



Avoid using files other than PDF on web pages.

Users may not have Word or Excel on their device.

Adobe Reader for pdfs is free so accessible to all.

Ensure you give PDF files etc. a name and include the file extension in the id when saving the file to your website e.g. registration.pdf, worksheet.xlsx Browsers can recognise the file and allow you to open it. Usability
Include the file extension in the link e.g. Orthopaedic Treatments.pdf To help people who use a screenreader. Accessibility
Files should open in a new window. To help people with different accessibility issues. Accessibility


Use bullet points for a list of links, rather than ’embed’ links in text:
  • Allows people to scan rather than read test on web pages;
  • Bullet points get picked up by Search Engines.
Usability, SEO
Don’t use links like ‘click here‘, or ‘more‘. Instead use text for linking e.g. ‘Recent Publications‘, the Speech given by Prof Teasdale.
  • Search engines ignore words without ‘meaning’ such as ‘here’;
  • For reasons of accessibility – i.e. people who use a screen-reader because of issues of visibility, will heara web page, rather thanread a web page. This means they’ll hear ‘link – here’, which means nothing;
  • For reasons of accessibility – where relevant, add (Word doc) or (pdf) so the user knows what to expect and include these words in the link you make!
Accessibility, SEO
Don’t open any web links in a new window
  • New windows are harder to navigate for screen-readers and mobile devices;
  • Except: open links to PDF files (or Word, Excel) in a new window.
Accessibility, Usability


Make sure you name your images properly i.e. give them a title (Alt text) and explain the purpose of the image: Allows search engines to index the image.
Don’t use text on images
  • It’s slow to load;
  • It’s time-consuming to edit;
  • Page-translators will not translate the text;
  • Mobile devices may not display it correctly and browsers may not resize it when a visually impaired user enlarges text.
Accessibility, Usability
Make sure you name your images properly i.e. give them a title (Alt text) and explain the purpose of the image so a screenreader will read out what the purpose of the image is.

Titles and headings

Ensure you have a title in the top left-hand corner of your banner. SEO, Accessibility
Ensure you have a title on every page; don’t use a heading style instead. SEO, Accessibility
Ensure you use Heading styles for important information.
  • Headings facilitate page navigation for users of many assistive technologies;
  • They also provide semantic and visual meaning and structure to the document;
  • A first level heading (

    ) should be present on nearly all pages;

  • It should contain the most important heading on the page
    (generally the document title).
SEO, Accessibility, Usability


All videos and audios need a transcript or captions.
  • Allows a deaf person to follow the text;
  • Allows a blind person to follow the text.


If you are going to use ‘moving content’, ensure the user can stop it.
E.g. this is why we don’trecommend using a News Ticker!
Annoying if a user can’t stop it! Accessibility
Don’t use colour as the only way to indicate users need to do something e.g. please click on the red button.

This would be a problem for people who may not see the colour red, for example.

Always give a text alternative!

Avoid using italics (1) and underline (2):
  • More difficult to read for people with certain types of dyslexia and people whose first language has a different script;
  • It implies it’s a link.
Accessibility, Usability