Thousands of people visit university websites on a daily basis. We are unable to predict what the user profile of that individual may be. By assuring our websites are accessible to all users, we guarantee that all of our website visitors will benefit from visiting our websites. Additionally, it has been proven that accessible websites are generally much better for all users, and people will return more often if the experience was a good one.
Inaccessible websites can prevent a wide variety of individuals from using them. If your website is designed for students but inaccessible, a student with a disability may not be able to get to the information on your site.
For example, if your website contains a listing of departmental events for students and is inaccessible, a blind student may not be able to find out about these events. If you have a form to apply for your program, a person who uses speech input may not be able to fill out your form if your site is inaccessible.
By following best practices and standards, you can assure that individuals with a variety of disabilities (such as blindness, hearing loss or deafness, physical impairments that keep them from using the keyboard, or learning disabilities) will be able to use your site.
There are several standards that must be considered when thinking about web accessibility. The University of California has adopted the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), version 2.0, level AA. These standards are currently the world's leading standards for web accessibility. When checking your website for accessibility you must be sure to comply with the single-A and AA standards of the web accessibility guidelines.
You should also reference the federal government Section 508 electronic accessibility standards. Please note that testing with Siteimprove will automatically test for these standards (to the level that automated testing tools can).
Contrary to popular belief, text-only websites are not the only option for web accessibility. Using modern methods such as HTML 5 and ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) roles and attributes can create dynamic, exciting, and accessible webpages.
My website contains lots of pictures and graphics - do I have to remove these to make it accessible?
You do not have to remove pictures or graphics to make a website accessible. However, a little bit of care is needed when using pictures or graphics on your website.
Be sure that you include an alt attribute for all images you use. The alt attribute is intended to be a substitute for the image any time the image itself cannot be seen. It should convey the message you are trying to send by using that image on your website. For example, if the picture is of your department chair, the alt attribute should possibly include the chair's name. However, if the image is purely decorative, the alt attribute should still exist but be empty. Leaving the alt attribute empty will mean that assistive technology such as screen readers will ignore that particular image.
Please note that this cannot be done if the image is a link. If it is, a screen reader must speak something when it finds that link. Linked images should always have a meaningful alt attribute - otherwise, a screen reader user will hear the filename instead of the actual title of the image.
We do not recommend this. Assistive technologies are very specific to individuals with disabilities and may be very difficult to learn.