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Accessibility > Laws, Policies, and Guidelines > University Policies > Software Accessibility Standards
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Software Accessibility

Software to be developed, purchased or acquired by the University of Minnesota shall be accessible for use by persons with disabilities. "Software" is not limited to assistive applications used by people with disabilities, but rather it applies to the development, procurement, maintenance, or use of all commercially available and newly developed software applications.

All University contracts and grants commencing after the effective date of the Accessibility of Information Technology policy should contain a provision requiring the contractor or grantee to comply with the university policy and standards. This means that colleges, departments, programs and other university entities will need to take steps to ensure that information technology, services, products (purchased, leased, or developed with university funds or other funds received by grant or contract from any other state or federal agency) meet the University of Minnesota accessibility requirements. To ensure that the requirements are satisfied, it is Recommended that each contract signed with a software vendor contain the provision set forth below or substantially similar language:

"Vendor hereby warrants that the products or services to be provided under this agreement comply with the University of Minnesota accessibility requirements.
Vendor agrees to promptly respond to and resolve any complaint regarding accessibility of its products or services which is brought to its attention.
Vendor further agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the University of Minnesota or any university entity using the vendor's products or services from any claim arising out of its failure to comply with the aforesaid requirements.
Failure to comply with these requirements shall constitute a breach and be grounds for termination of this agreement."


Keyboard Access

  • Key combinations used within an application shall
    • be consistent throughout the application;
    • adhere to standard operating system conventions;
    • not conflict with operating system accessibility features/keystrokes.
  • Only Shift, Alt, and Control shall be used as application defined accelerator/modifier keys.
  • Standard keyboard navigation functionality shall be maintained.

Interface Objects, Elements and Labels

  • Windows applications should use standard Windows controls that provide clear, correct and concise object information.
  • Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) should be used to provide object information.

Font, Size and Color

  • Applications should provide a variety of display options (e.g., font, size, color and background selection).
  • Patterned backgrounds should be disabled when a Windows high-contrast setting is selected.
  • font, size or color alone should not be used to convey information.

Audio Alerts

  • Applications should allow the user to choose visual cues for audio alerts.
  • Applications should not conflict with operating system accessibility features.
  • Applications may provide an Option in the application's user preferences or another means of activating visual cues for audio alerts.

Volume Control

  • Applications should provide a volume control option for audio output.
  • Applications should respect system volume settings.

Animations and Multimedia

  • Video presentations shall be accompanied by text and/or audio descriptions of the visual content.
  • Audio presentations shall be accompanied by text captioning.
  • The equivalent accessible alternatives for an animation or multimedia presentation (i.e., text captioning and/or audio description) shall be synchronized with the presentation.
  • An option for disabling animations or multimedia presentations shall be provided.
  • The ability to access animations and multimedia presentations shall not be required in order to use an application.

Blinking Elements and Marquees

  • An option shall be available that allows the user to disable or adjust the frequency of blinking screen elements.
  • An option shall be available that allows the user to disable or adjust the rate at which screen elements scroll.

Response Times

  • Important messages shall be displayed until the user closes them.
  • The user shall be alerted when a process is about to time-out. One or more of the following options shall be provided.
    • A method for indicating that more time is needed.
    • A method for the user to adjust the time interval.
    • A non-time dependent alternative.


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