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The State of Oklahoma is committed to delivering digital experiences that are usable to people with a diverse range of experiences. 

ADA Guidelines

As part of our commitment to accessibility our site experiences are ADA complaint and adhere to usability guidelines for all our state constituents and site visitors. There are three levels of WCAG 2.0 guidelines:

Level A: the most basic level of compliance
Level AA: more thorough level to ensure for a more usable site
Level AAA: the highest level of compliance

The new Design System for the State of Oklahoma strives to adhere to ADA Level AA compliance standards and the following accessibility principles:

Principle 1: Perceivable & Actionable

Information and user interface components must be presented to users in ways that are easily perceived and understood.

Principle 2: Operable & Responsive

User interface navigation, templates, and components must be easily operable and work across various browsers and devices.

Principle 3: Understandable & Inclusive

Information conveyance and the operability of the user interface must consider the needs of users across a range of demographics.

Principle 4: Robust & Flexible

Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.

General Authoring Considerations

Provide enough contrast for foreground and background elements such as buttons, images, and text. This will help users to read and scan through content and data more easily. Include imagery to provide visual appeal and utilize blank space to further aid in legibility.

Provide users with more than one way to navigate through content. Be consistent in navigation in language and design for easy identification by users.

Provide simple-to-read text by keeping it brief and descriptive. The same applies to providing succinct labels on form designs,  calls-to-action (CTAs), hyperlinks, and buttons. Use clear headings and relevant information hierarchy to convey related content groupings.

For any non-text information such as images, buttons, or iconography, provide a text alternative. Include transcript options for any video or audio content. Comprehensive text captions should be added to all interactive elements, as well as images.

Avoid using only color to communicate selection. An additional indicator such as an icon, underline, or selected state will help to better convey information to users. Provide enough user affordance for interactive elements to communicate their intent.

Provide clear and succinct error feedback. This should include correction instructions with clear resolution steps when needed.

Reduce the number of steps or interaction clicks to improve task completion rate. Label each form element, and provide enough visual cues to show what is required and what is optional. Arrange form elements in natural groupings and include tab navigation for easy alternative selection.

All interactive elements and functionality should be accessible from a keyboard, such as tabbing to navigate to navigation links, form elements, CTAs, buttons, etc.


Hierarchy is a principle and technique that can aid in effective communication to site visitors.  This includes visual hierarchy, navigation hierarchy, and information (or content) hierarchy.

Visual Hierarchy

Visual hierarchy can be used to provide emphasis to specific areas of the page based on the proportion and scale of a component. Placement or strategic positioning of a design element will help to convey its importance. For instance, a hero image could communicate an important announcement. Our design system also incorporates various heading types (H1-H4) to convey text-based visual hierarchy to communicate important sections while considering SEO best practices for Headings.

To enable an accessible screen reader to dictate content in the sequence it was intended, it is important to write HTML in the correct order to follow the screenreader-friendly and default hierarchy.

Navigation Hierarchy

In order to help users understand which information is most important, we can use visual aids or textual cues. These can include color, text, iconography, shape, or motion. We should maintain consistency in these visual cues so that users remember upon return to the site. This will also help users to navigate to other state agency sites within the ecosystem that will leverage the same component library. This will provide visitors with a sense of muscle memory to perform tasks more accurately while avoiding potential frustration.

Information Hierarchy

Information hierarchy is an extension of visual hierarchy. Text-based and image content can use scale to convey importance. Arrangement of design elements or content on a page can reveal sequence or an order of importance. 


Information hierarchy can be used to aid in the user’s learning journey. We want our users to move from raw data perception to wisdom, which is the highest level of information capture. 

Every clickable element such as a button, image, and CTA adds complexity to the UI. In order to succinctly guide the user, consider these simple guidelines:

  • Include clearly visible elements that stand out on the UI.
  • Include enough contrast and adequate sizing (proportion) based on the element’s importance.
  • Communicate hierarchy of importance, especially when requiring resolution, i.e.: fixing a field validation error.
  • Information should be discernable at first glance.
To convey an element’s relative level of importance:
  • Placement: Include important actions, like an anchor link, near the top. Place less important information further down the page. 
  • Context: When necessary, provide relevant information next to an element for support or educational purposes. Examples of this are related articles or FAQs. 
  • Proximity: Position related items of a similar hierarchy next to one another in a similar visual treatment if they’re on equal level.



Consider grouping items together that are related to each other with a clear label. Labels should be succinct and on Brand with the State of Oklahoma messaging and tone guidelines. Groupings are also important when it comes to focusing order to increase ease of use and accessibility.

Focus order

Focus order is the order in which a user recognizes the elements on a page. The visual layout of each page needs to take into account how the visual layout flows from the top to the bottom of the page to best communicate sequence of elements, importance, and relevance. It is best practice to organize a page so that the user focuses on the most important pieces of content first.

To help plan for focus points and the sequence of focus selection, consider the following:

  • The order in which elements receive focus
  • The way in which elements are grouped
  • Where focus moves when the element in focus disappears

Focus points can be supported through visual indicators and accessibility text which is recognized by screen readers and dictated back to the user based in the order elements were arranged and coded.

Color & Contrast

Color and contrast are basic tools that communicate emphasis, designate importance, and help users interpret content. From an accessibility perspective, color is one of the most important considerations to support users who see color differently or are unable to see color. 

Color Principles


Text-based, data, and visual elements like icons and imagery should adhere to legibility and accessibility standards when overlayed on colored backgrounds.


The user of color should indicate interactive elements, content groupings, and their level of prominence in the navigation and content hierarchy.


State agencies have component and template-based themed color options to choose from that best captures the agency brand and industry.

Color Blindness

Limited color ability can make reading and discerning low-contrast text difficult for users.

Color blindness can be common across any demographic. Color blindness comes in a few different forms, but the two most common types are deuteranopia and protanopia. Both of these types are challenging for people to differentiate between reds, oranges, greens browns, and greens, and sometimes between blues and purples.

Contrast Ratios

Contrast ratios represent how a color pairs against another color, commonly written as 1:1 or 21:1. The greater the difference is between the two numbers in the ratio, the greater the difference in relative luminance between the colors. The contrast ratio between a color and its background ranges from 1-21 based on its luminance (the intensity of light emitted) according to guidelines from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

The higher the contrast, the better it is for users to distinguish between overlapping elements like text and non-text elements. For instance, a low-contrast image may be hard for some users to differentiate in bright or low light conditions, such as at night or a very sunny day. Also, consider monitors that may not be calibrated correctly and glare may also exacerbate the issue.

Visual Aids

Avoid relying strictly on color by including other design treatments to help ensure that color-blind users understand visual cues. Apply formal elements such as strokes (with enough thickness), visual indicators, patterns, texture, universal iconography, and/or text to describe actions, instructions, and content.

Color Check Tools

These color accessibility tools can be used to check color contrast ratios and ensure compliance to Level AA standards:

Color Contrast Checker  |  Google Material Color Tool 
Plugins: Adobe XD  |  Sketch  |  Figma

This chrome plugin can be used to check color contrast ratios within the browser if for text on the gradient, solid, or image background.

Chrome Plugin For Color Contrast

Last Modified on Nov 12, 2020
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