On this page:
Even among those Web editors who are familiar with the need for accessible pages, we often don't appreciate Web accessibility beyond the need for descriptive alternative text for images or the fact that some people need screen reader software. Check out some of these articles and videos to appreciate the scope of disability.
- Accessibility is not what you think, Paul Boag
- Getting to Know the Disabilities Community, Michael Paciello
- How People with Disabilities Use the Web, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) (Draft)
- Why keyboard usability is more important than you think, David Sloan and Sarah Horton. It doesn't just matter for blind people.
- Specific obstacles
- Designing for dyslexia, part 1, Andrew Zusman (Part 2)
- Users with low literacy, Jennifer Winter. 43% of Americans have low literacy!
- A primer to vestibular disorders, The A11y Project [Accessibility = A + 11 letters + y]
- Challenges for people with cognitive disabilities (second section on page), John Rochford
- Designing For The Elderly: Ways Older People Use Digital Technology Differently, Ollie Campbell
- Making your website senior friendly (PDF), National Institute on Aging
- Videos of people using assistive technology
- Quick demo of JAWS screen reader — notice the high rate of speech
- Just an ordinary day
- Everything I can't do in the real world I can do with my Mac
- Inaccessibility of Gmail signup demonstration, National Federation for the Blind
- Basic screen reader commands for accessibility testing, The Paciello Group
If you want to try out a screen reader (encouraged), you'll need to learn its keyboard commands for getting around. This is a nice, quick reference for JAWS (Windows, popular), Narrator (Windows, built-in), NVDA (Windows, free), and VoiceOver (Mac OS, built-in).
Although making our Web pages accessible should be motivated by a desire to make Wright State University available and welcoming to all regardless of ability level, there are laws that affirm the rights of disabled people to access our programs and define our responsibilities to make those programs available. Below is a summary of major federal laws governing Web accessibility at our institution.
Section 504 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act
Establishes that no individual shall, solely by reason of disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity conducted by a federal agency or institution receiving federal assistance.
Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act
Requires that individuals with disabilities, who are members of the public seeking information or services from a federal agency, have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to that provided to the public who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency. Obligations to comply with Section 508 can be extended to the state and local level by participation in certain federal programs.
Anyone with a disability who does not have "comparable access to and use of information and data" on a federal agency Web site may file a complaint or civil action against the federal department or agency that has not complied.
Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) Accessibility Standards
Often called the "Section 508 Standards," this regulatory document implementing Section 508 was released by the U.S. Access Board in 2000, with only minor updates since then. Section 1194.22 lists the standards for Web sites. This section bears similarities to the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 1.0, but differs in important, noted ways. Since 2006, the Access Board has been working on a refresh of the Section 508 Standards, one which would bring the standards into sync with WCAG 2.0, with publication in the Federal Register possible in 2016.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
- Wide-ranging legislation intended to make American society more accessible to people with disabilities.
- Extends the requirements of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to all public and commercial facilities, with few exceptions, not just those that receive federal funding.
- Requires that every institution receiving federal funds establish and maintain a plan of compliance.
- Lawsuits have been filed against various non-federal agencies for inaccessible Web sites using the ADA.
- A proposed DOJ rulemaking would establish standards for ADA compliance of Web sites under Title II (state and local public entities) and Title III (places of public accommodation)
- 2014: Settlement with Peapod, LLC, an online grocer
- 2014: Settlement in National Federation for the Blind v. H&R Block
- 2010: National Federation for the Blind files a complaint with Department of Education alleging widespread Web inaccessibility at Penn State University
- 2006: National Federation for the Blind v. Target, a class action yielding $6 million in damages
Making Pages Accessible
Accessibility is the responsibility of all Web practitioners. While the Office of Marketing is tasked with making the skeleton of the content management system accessible, we can't prevent site editors from making choices that ultimately make their pages harder to use for their visitors. On this page, we lay out the standards that Wright State Web pages should align to and offer additional guidance.
Standards and checklists
- University Policy 11100: World Wide Web
University policy declaring that any Wright State University Web pages which contain official university information or are directly connected with the university's mission must adhere to Web accessibility standards.
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), version 2.0
Produced by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the primary standards body for the Web. Offers three levels of conformance: A, AA, and AAA. We aim for AA conformance.
- IBM Web Accessibility Checklist
Based on WCAG 2.0 with additional information on each guideline.
- IBM Web Accessibility Checklist
- Section 508 Web information standards
Produced by the U.S. Access Board in 2000, defining accessibility standards for federal government websites and those of institutions receiving certain federal assistance. Bears some similarities to WCAG version 1.0. Updated standards, more closely aligned to WCAG 2.0, have been a decade in the making and are expected to be released in 2016.
- Authors Accessibility Checklist, University of Cincinnati
Accessibility notes integrated into other topics in the CMS User Guide
Make your pages clear, simple, and easy to understand.
- Use the clearest and simplest language appropriate for a site's content and audience.
"Every word and phrase should have to fight for its life. That means writing 'use' instead of 'utilize' which is identical in meaning, but has two more syllables."
--Crawford Kilian, "Effective Web Writing," Web Techniques, Feb. 2001
- Divide large blocks of information into more manageable groups where natural and appropriate, using proper headings. For longer pages, use a "Table of Contents" where each item links to its respective heading.
- Expand abbreviations and acronyms the first time they occur to assist with interpretation.
The UTC (University Technology Committee) recently approved the University Web Policy.
- When considering use of images, audio and video content, first ask yourself these questions:
- What is the purpose of this visual content?
- How important is the visual content to the meaning of the page/site?
- How can I convey the information presented in the visual or auditory content for those who aren't able to see, read or hear it?"
If the visual content provides no clear advantage or meaning, consider omitting it. The benefit of the content or function of the image should outweigh the inconvenience of additional download time.
Use HTML tags for their intended purpose.
- Use heading tags properly. Headings are meant to indicate the beginning of a section or subsection.
- Don't use headings just because you want the font bigger or in a different color.
- Don't skip headings (e.g., an <h5> should not appear directly below an <h3> without an <h4> in between)
- If you just bold a one line paragraph, that is not a heading! Assistive software may provide a list of all headings on a page or announce them specially as they're encountered, so these users will miss out on your headings.
- Use list tags, not bullet characters or manual numbering, to create lists. Assistive technology can announce a proper list, including how many items the list has, and provide shortcuts to navigate through that list.
- Don't use block quotes or list tags to create indentation or margins. The <q></q> tag is used within a paragraph to quote a direct source. The <blockquote></blockquote> tag is used for a longer quote, which is "blocked" or indented from each side margin.
- Don't underline text or headings that aren't hyperlinks. Users have learned that hyperlinks are underlined.