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This article applies to: Web Accessibility

Making maps accessible presents a challenging concern when being aware of what content you have on your website. There is currently no clear standard on how to make a digital map accessible to people with visual disabilities. Maps contain very detailed and compressed information and it can be difficult to convey all of this information through alternative means. There are, however, some general guidelines to follow when using maps.

Maps for directions: If a map is being used to provide directions to a location, then make sure text-based directions are also included. text-based instructions also benefit those who have problems processing a particular map.

Embedded Google maps: Use some form of label, or title if using an iFrame.

Maps for displaying multiple locations: Provide a text list of locations or location links in a text-based list.

Geographical data maps: Provide a long description of the information that the map is trying to convey.

Color coding: Make sure there is sufficient contrast between the text and the background. It is important to remember that color alone should not be used to identify regions of the map.

Determine the purpose of the map: If the map is on the page to show landmarks, describe those landmarks and their locations, either in an unordered list or a paragraph.

Additionally, all maps should include:

  • A contact point that can provide more information, or if possible respond to requests for 3D or Tactile maps. 
  • A text alternative. The main methods for providing a map alternative are:
    • Provide the alternative content on the same page either below, above, or next to the map. This is the method that's most accessible to all users and provides the most value for everyone visiting your page.
    • Provide a separate long-description page and link the map to it. This will only work if your map is an actual image, not an embedded Google Maps screen. Also, the long description attribute has weak browser support, and is not part of the HTML5 specification.


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