Pennsylvania State Web Accessibility Laws

Updated: June 3, 2019

Pennsylvania, often called the Commonwealth, has adapted their own accessibility policies, alongside Section 508.

The IT Accessibility policy is applied to “all departments, boards, commissions, and councils under the Governor’s jurisdiction (Agencies).”

A Commonwealth Website

Agencies in Pennsylvania must ensure their websites are completely accessible. If they cannot be made completely accessible then alternative means must be noted.

A website is defined as “any content or application accessed through an Internet browser.”

There are two requirements for agencies who create websites:

  1. A website must provide the same or equivalent access to individuals with disabilities.
  2. Agencies must test and validate their websites for accessibility.

To test and validate websites, agencies can use the following methods:

  • The features from the Integrated Development Environment (IDE)
  • Using the automated validation tools found under the STD-ACC001A Accessibility Product Standards*
  • OPD-ACC001C, ACCVerify Accessibility Rule Settings
  • Manual testing and validation. Agencies can refer to the guidelines under OPD-ACC001A for manual testing and techiniques for web accessibility validation.

*Licensed versions of the products under STD-ACC001A are available through the IT office, which you can email at for licenses.

Recommended Tools

The standard validation tools recommended by the Commonwealth are:

  • HiSoftware AccVerify
  • JAWS
  • Visual Inspection

Websites have to be consistently checked. To check websites, the Commonwealth recommends the following tools:

Website Standards

Agencies, boards, councils, and commissions must ensure their website meets the IT Accessibility Policy Requirements outlined in ITP-ACC001 Accessibility Policy document.

All internal and outsourced creation and implementation of agency websites must follow the formats and standards outlined below. For a full list of the requirements refer to ITP-SFT002 Commonwealth of PA Website Standards.

In general, the design of a web page must be consistent and provide valuable information.

Open standards incorporated into the Commonwealth’s Portal:

  • Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP)
  • Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS)
  • Java Specification Request 168 (JSR168)
  • Services-Oriented Architecture (SOA)
  • Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)
  • Universal Description
  • Discovery and Integration (UDDI)
  • Extensible Markup Language (XML)
  • Web Services Description Language (WSDL)
  • Web Services for Remote Portlets (WSRP)

General Web Page Design Guidelines require the webpage to:

  • Be easy to read
  • Be easy to navigate
  • Be accessible to a wide range of users
  • Follow defined enterprise branding specifications
  • State the page title on each page

Website navigation must:

  • Be consistent throughout the entire website
  • Allow visitors to find desired information quickly and easily
  • Indicate which links are currently selected and which have been previously selected
  • Use Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) text for key content
  • Provide a shortcut on every page that follows the home page
  • All pages must have a link back to the home page
  • All agency pages must have a link back to the Commonwealth’s home page

Within the page:

  • Hypertext links must have descriptive and intuitive link text. They must be checked regularly to ensure they are not broken.
  • Page organization must include headings, lists, and a consistent structure. Cascading style sheets (CSS) is recommended for layout and style.
  • Testing of webpage accessibility is recommended.
  • Tables must meet the accessibility requirements outlined in the ITP-ACC001 Accessibility Policy.
  • Electronic forms must be made accessible to people with disabilities.

For Graphic images, animations, and maps must:

  • Include an alternate (alt) attribute describing images.
  • Graphics must be saved in Graphics Exchange Format (GIF), Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG), or Portable Network Graphics (PNG)
  • Server-side image maps must include “redundant text links to assist users who may choose to tab through links without the use of a mouse.”
  • Images must follow the standards under ITP-ACC001 IT Accessibility Policy

Accessible Multimedia standards:

  • All multimedia files, such as sound files, video files, steaming audio, and streaming video, must be compliant with ITP-ACC001 Accessibility Policy.
  • Text alternatives such as closed captions or a transcript at required for video and audio files

Exemptions from IT Accessibility Policy

Agencies can submit a request for a waiver by contacting the Commonwealth of PA Procurement and Architectural Review (COPPAR).


Questions about Pennsylvania standards and policies for IT Accessibility can be emailed to


Learn About Other U.S. State Accessibility Laws

Click on the map below to learn more about captioning and web accessibility laws in other states.


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