Considering Accessibility First

Would you develop a website that is inaccessible to part of your target audience?
Would you procure a service that a significant portion of your employees couldn't utilize?
Would you purchase a product that not all students could access?

That could be the reality if accessibility is not considered first when developing, procuring or distributing Electronic Information Resources (EIR). According to the Texas Department of Information Resources, more than four million Texans have disabilities that can affect their interaction with the Internet, the telephone, and other means of electronic communication. In the United States, nearly one in five Americans has some level of disability; One in four of us has a visual difficulty or impairment; one in four of us has a dexterity difficulty or impairment, and one in five of us has a hearing difficulty or impairment.

Why it's so important

  • It's the right thing to do. It supports our long-standing tradition of inclusiveness and promotes a key Texas A&M mission of diversity.
  • It makes sense. As an institution, it allows us to reach more individuals with our teaching and learning initiatives, with our research findings and with the real-life applications associated with each of them.
  • It's required by law. As a state-supported institution, as well as one that receives federal funding for grants and initiatives, our university is required to provide accessible EIR.

Did you know?

  • In the United States, about 55 million people have a disability (src: 2010 U.S. Census).
  • About 1 in 5 Americans have some kind of disability (src: 2010 U.S. Census).
  • The percentage of people affected by disabilities is growing as our population ages.
  • Two popular, free screen readers are VoiceOver (Mac OS and iOS) and NVDA (Win).
  • Good accessibility practices can improve the search ranking of your website.
  • Form fields without labels can cause problems for some assistive technology users.
  • Low color contrast makes content difficult to see, especially for users with low vision.
  • Documents linked on a website need to be accessible too (e.g., PDF and Word files).
  • Audio content, like podcasts, need transcripts for deaf or hard of hearing users.
  • Online videos should be captioned for deaf or hard of hearing users.
  • Using HTML tags correctly is very important for accessibility.
  • Descriptive link text helps make a website more accessible. Avoid using "Click here" or "Read more."
  • A "screen reader" is an application that reads content aloud to a user.
  • There is no "alt tag" in HTML. "Alt" is an attribute used with the img tag.
  • HTML uses the alt attribute to provide a text description of an image.
  • Alt text should describe an image, if the purpose of the image is to convey information.
  • If an image is a link, the alt text for the image should explain where the link goes.
  • If an image is only being used for decoration, the alt text should be null (i.e., alt="").
  • If a table has headers, using header tags (<th>) will make the table more accessible.
  • An accessible website is one that can be navigated and understood by everyone.