Website Accessibility

"... allowing everyone access to what they need from our site in a format that works for them."

Goals

 

Our goal is to provide content on our site that is accessible to all visitors whether they have disabilities or not. Because as many as 20% of the general population claim some sort of disability, we need to work to make the site friendly for all. 

 

Challenges

 

To accomplish this, we are implementing programs to help us meet guidelines set forth by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. These guidelines outline a number of areas focused on web design and content and here are some points currently being addressed:

  • provide content that can be accessed using assistive technology devices
  • provide consistency in content organization which sets a pattern for navigation throughout the site 
  • provide appropriate help text for images enabling message delivery even when the image cannot be displayed or viewed
  • provide appropriate contrast in colors used within the message so that those who suffer from color blindness will be able to discern the intended message
  • provide navigation that works on a variety of devices and platforms from desktop computers to mobile phones and tablets
 

Steps taken:

 

Using both people and technology, we have implemented a number of different tools to help us accomplish our goals and meet the challenges of providing content that is functionally accessible for our audience.

  • Our site is being developed and maintained using a content management system (CMS) with templates structured to provide our content managers easy mechanisms by which to add content in a format compliant with WCAG 2.0, levels A and AA.
  • We encourage users at all levels to follow these simple guidelines when creating their pages:
    • H tags should be ordered/nested properly.
    • Images must have alt tags (Image Descriptions) that make sense.
    • Links must be descriptive (no “click here”).
    • Images, including those in slideshows/galleries, must have accurate descriptions.
    • Videos containing narration (embedded or linked) must be captioned.
  • Before publishing a page, users at all levels are asked to check pages for compliance as they are published using tools within the CMS.  The CMS provides an accessibility checker that compares each page against requirements set by WCAG 2.0 A/AA for accessibility. To further insure that our content is accessible, the Web Services Team has initiated a program to review existing pages within college and departmental sites to check for accessibility errors and make corrections where needed.
  • In addition, we check new PDFs when they are added to the site for accessibility and have instructed departments to check their PDFs using tools provided in Adobe Acrobat Pro and to make necessary modifications prior to uploading files to their departmental sites.
  • USA has also begun utilizing Siteimprove to check the site for accessibility errors.  This review also points out compliance issues related to future enhanced regulations for accessibility. (Note:  We have not begun making code changes associated with these.)
  • We have implemented Usablenet Assistive to provide text-only versions of pages throughout the www.southalabama.edu site.  Each webpage has a text only link embedded in the header of the page as the first link option read by a screen reader.  Using that link, the reader is directed to the text-only version of the page which is formatted for easier access to the page contents and its navigation.  For users not employing a screen reader, the text only version of a page can be viewed by clicking the "text only" link provided under USA Resources in the page footer.
  • In addition to the implementation of these technology tools, we are physically checking our content for ease of use. In cooperation with Student Disabilities Services and Alabama School for Deaf and Blind, we have spot checked pages to verify proper access to page content and links for screen readers.