Yes. Federal and State laws require institutions of higher learning to provide accessible web pages and web applications.
There are many reasons why your website should be accessible.
The cost associated with making websites accessible is a concern to all departments on campus. However, the cost is generally minimal if accessibility principles are incorporated during the initial site design and development phases. Retrofitting, on the other hand, is far more expensive and time consuming
The most important thing to understand is that people use the web in very different ways. A site should therefore present information in a way that people can access it regardless of what kind of hardware or software they are using, and regardless of how they navigate through a site. Web designers cannot assume that everyone uses the same kinds of devices the same way.
While certainly not an exhaustive list, the following is representative of many common accessibility mistakes. Note that many, if not most, of these can be found and fixed by writing your web pages in HTML and running them through an HTML validator
The percentage of people with disabilities in the United States is approximately 18.7%, according to a 2010 Census Data. You can read a more detailed description in Americans with Disabilities: 2010 (pdf) . Not all disabilities affect access to information technologies such as the web, but many do. Something else to keep in mind... for people with disabilities, online access is sometimes even more critical than for the general population, who may have an easier time accessing traditional sources of information.
No. Making a website accessible is more about including good design elements than removing them. Nearly all sophisticated and visually-attractive web technologies can be rendered in an accessible manner, if designed with accessibility in mind. Creative web designers are able to keep the website visually pleasing and, at the same time, make it accessible for more people to access the site.
In a business environment where the creation and maintenance of accessible websites is readily achievable, the use of an "ad hoc" approach to accommodating a person with a disability does not offer equal or comparable access. There may be times in very specific instances where something cannot be made accessible and providing the accommodation will be required. However this approach should supplement, rather than take the place of, providing an accessible technology infrastructure.
While there are many ways for the blind to access the web, they all revolve around providing alternative methods to access information. WebAIM offers several key concepts to keep in mind while developing your site.
A screen reader is a software application that interprets what is on the computer screen and conveys the information to the user through a different context, often through sound. Several screen readers are available, both commercially and for free download: Web Accessibility Testing Tools � Screen Readers
In most cases, screen readers speak all page elements in the same order as they appear in the document's source code, left to right and top to bottom. Screen reader users will also use a number of shortcuts (that rely on good HTML markup) to navigate through content more quickly and skip to the information they're looking for. It's a good idea to try to navigate your pages with a screen reader yourself to see what potential obstacles users could face: Web Accessibility Testing Tools - Screen Readers
Color blindness is not a true form of blindness, but rather a problem in the way color is processed. People with this vision problem have difficulty distinguishing certain colors, such as red and green or blue and yellow. About 10% of the male population has some form of color blindness, less than 1% of females. True color blindness (shades of gray only) is extremely rare. Color blindness can be compensated for through the selection of colors used, and strong, contrasting colors. Check your contrast levels with a color contrast checker (available with many web accessibility browser extensions , like the Accessibility Evaluation Toolbar
Yes! There are a whole range of potential disabilities, almost all of which can be mitigated to some extent by keeping accessibility in mind. The hearing disabled, for example, might not be able to listen to a podcast or audiocast, but if you provide transcripts and/or captioning they will still be able to follow along. Motor impairment can make the use of a computer mouse difficult or impossible, so make sure someone can navigate your site using only a keyboard. Vision impairment might not mean complete blindness, so creating text elements that can be enlarged will help your low-vision users.
No! In almost all cases text-only sites are not only unnecessary but highly discouraged. Proper use of CSS and appropriate tagging of non-text elements should in most cases make the site accessible to anyone.
Yes. State and federal law specifically exclude this as a rationale for not making sites accessible. All workplace infrastructure, including IT, must be accessible in preparation for future employees with disabilities so that they can be productive from the moment they begin their employment.
Yes, an accessible website includes the accessibility of all its contents, including documents, forms, and other digital objects (multimedia, graphics, etc.). A process for ensuring the accessibility of the content is critical to a web accessibility policy. For more information about how to create documents, you can explore WebAIM's PDF Accessibility , Word Accessibility , and PowerPoint Accessibility articles.
There are several federal, state, and University regulations which pertain to web accessibility. See the Web Accessibility Regulations page for more information.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was re-authorized in 1998 and included web accessibility requirements that were later developed into a set of Section 508 Accessibility Guidelines. While these guidelines explicitly refer to pages used in instruction, state and university guidelines use Section 508 as the foundation upon which they were built, so in effect, Section 508 applies to all university websites.
Texas Administrative Code (TAC) 206, specifically Title 1, Part 10, Chapter 206, is a compilation of compliance requirements or rules for Texas agency and institution of higher education websites. It covers five distinct areas: Accessibility, Translation, Privacy, Linking, and Indexing.
Yes. View Texas A&M's Web Accessibility Policy
Maybe. See Texas A&M's KPEP list for more information.
There are hundreds of useful articles, tutorial, and resources on the internet to help with web accessibility. If you're looking for help with a specific issue, please contact the Web Accessibility Team . We'll be happy to assist you.
Yes. Refer to the Web Accessibility Testing Tools