In the United States, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that Federal agencies' electronic and information technology is accessible to people with disabilities. Sub part B - Technical Standards - § 1194.22, specifically deals with Web-based intranet and internet information and applications and is considered to be the minimum standards for Web Content.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community that develops standards to ensure the long-term growth of the Web. Their Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG v.2.0) are usually considered in tandem with Section 508 Standards when creating policies concerning Web Accessibility.
Principles of Accessible and Universal Web Design have developed from the concept of Universal Design and pertain to the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. Universally designed Web content is: equitable, flexible, simple and intuitive, perceptible, minimizes error, easy to use and has redundancy.
Web Usability measures the quality of a user's experience within a Web site. The principles of Web usability are based on over-all satisfaction with the browsing experience.
Because the delivery of digital or Web-based information is fundamental to a university’s mission to promote learning, discovery and engagement, the Web Accessibility Checklist includes concepts from all: Section 508 Standards, WCAG v.2.0 Guidelines, Universal Design, and Web Usability.
The IPFW Web Accessibility Checklist is intended as a guide for Web Authors. It prioritizes key items to check in all Web content to ensure accessibility according to the Section 508 Standards and IPFW's Web Accessibility Policy.
Some of the checklist items have been designated as obsolete and not to be used for Web Content: flickering content, frames, client-side and server-side image maps.
Other items will be or have been handled on a system-wide level through changes to templates, dotCMS, or CSS styles: CSS based image maps, skip links, use of <strong> and <em> instead of <bold> and <italic>, timing related to meta refresh/scripts/banners.
IT Services Web Accessibility Training offers support for Web Authors on checklist items that are included as part of their responsibilities to provide Web accessible content. Web Authors have additional responsibilities beyond those items covered by the checklist. These are explained by the Office of Institutional Equity as outlined in Web Accessibility Responsibilities.
Multimedia includes a wide range of Web content: video, audio, flash, iTunes, YouTube, streaming, podcasts, etc. It is a complex issue. IPFW has a large number of legacy Web pages that fall into this category. Web Authors continue to create multimedia content, often to enrich or to provide course content. Currently, departments are only being asked to report any multimedia content that they maintain on their Web pages to the Office of Institutional Equity as listed on the Reporting Form. This information will aid in determining the most effective method of creating accessible multimedia content without undue burden to those departments and individuals using multimedia.
For those interested in how they can begin
The text that appears on the title bar of any web page is the friendly name.
The friendly name should not be overlooked when creating a Web page. Search engines use the friendly name as a means of indexing Web pages. A well crafted friendly name is essential to making the Web page accessible.
Follow IPFW's naming convention for friendly name: department or group - page title or page description
Headings are titles and subtitles that are seen when viewing text. Screen readers and other assistive technology use the structure of Web page content and headings to make the content more meaningful. The structure of Web pages should be hierarchical. Think about how we use an outline to organize a college paper or essay. Our Web pages make use of Headings 1 through 6.
Heading 4 <4> - Heading 6 <h6> would be used for sub-sections of the <h2> or <h3>, and so on.
Alternative text (alt text) is the text that is displayed instead of images on websites. A visually impaired reader who is using a screen reader will hear the alt text in place of the image. A text browser will display the alt text instead of the image.
Metadata is information about a Web page that search engines use to help rank the page in search results. It is important to enter metadata for each page to help visitors find a Web page. Metadata must be included for Web page description and keywords for all IPFW.edu pages intended for public viewing.
Metadata (description): A sentence describing what the web page is about.
Metadata (Keywords): A list of possible keywords that users would enter in the search bar to look for that particular page.
Step by step instructions for metadata are available in the Web Accessibility how-to's.
A table uses rows and columns to organize content visually on the screen.
An image map is an image that has been divided into regions with associated actions. Clicking on an active region causes an action to occur.
Avoid using image maps unless they can be created using CSS
Those who cannot use a mouse may be able to use a keyboard. For those who cannot use a keyboard, assistive devices mimic the functionality of a keyboard in one way or another.
In its simplest form, keyboard accessible content progresses in a logical order when the Tab key is used to tab through content.
These are assistive, rehabilitative devices or methods that promote greater independence for individuals with disabilities by changing how these individuals interact with technology. Adaptive technologies assist with information access. Screen-reading software, which can read aloud for the user the details of material displayed on a monitor, is one such example of assistive technology.
Plugins are software pieces that add a specific feature or service to a larger system. For example, in order to view a PDF file, the Adobe Acrobat Reader® plugin is required. When information is made available to users and requires a plugin to make it accessible, a link to downloading that plugin should be provided.
For some plugins, the question of accessibility is more complex. For instance, Web content that uses Java or Flash. Section 508 says that a text equivalent non-text element shall be provided. Providing alternative text for images or a long description for a chart is much easier than providing text equivalents for some plugins. University Relations will consider plugins on a case by case basis. If you currently use or plan to use a Java or Flash plugin in your site, contact University Relations for more information.
Widgets are small programs that can be put into Web content. Some commonly used and well recognized widgets are: Find us on Facebook widget, live stream widgets, upcoming events widget, user status widget. Widgets will be handled on a case by case basis by University Relations. If you currently use or plan to use a widget in your site, contact University Relations for more information.
Some assistive technologies need to present the content of the web page in a linear fashion. This makes it difficult or impossible for the end user of these technologies to skip around the page. If the navigation links are at the top or left of all of the pages in a site the user of these assistive technologies would need to read or listen to, all of the navigation links each time a new page is loaded. Experienced users of the assistive technology find reading through all of these repeated links aggravating. Users who are newer to the assistive technology frequently become confused about whether the contents of the page are even changing when a link is selected.