Web Accessibility in HigherEd
Last week, our Uweb group hosted a webinar titled “Web Accessibility Demystified” (PowerPoint coming soon), which shed some light on the technicalities of making a website user-friendly while adhering to the Section 508 requirements. Florida International University is a public, federally funded institution. As so, the University must comply with the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. 794d), designed to make online information and services fully available to individuals with disabilities.
According to the Web Accessibility in Mind website, there are three general reasons that we want to create accessibile websites:
To improve the lives of people with disabilities (human-centered motivations) To capitalize on the a wider audience or consumer base (marketing or economic-centered motivations) To avoid lawsuits and/or bad press (public relations and punishment-centered motivations)
The Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) has developed guidelines for making the Web accessible to all people. These guidelines are based on four simple principles that are easily remembered using the acronym POUR:
Perceivable: Available to the senses (vision and hearing primarily) either through the browser or through assistive technologies (e.g. screen readers, screen enlargers, etc.) Operable: Users can interact with all controls and interactive elements using either the mouse, keyboard, or an assistive device. Understandable: Content is clear and limits confusion and ambiguity. Robust: A wide range of technologies (including old and new user agents and assistive technologies) can access the content.
In addition to complying with accessibility requirements, university websites should prioritize ease of use for all visitors regardless of their abilities. Adhering to these standards not only makes a website easy navigable, but also makes for better SEO and overall organization.
Feel free to share your web accessibility tips and concerns with us – we are always open to your feedback!
A Few Web Accessibility Resources:
- Web Accessibility for the Academic Community
- Web Accessibility Checklist
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
- Principles of Accessible Web Design
- Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool
FIU Web Communications is a full service web team that provides support and consulting for departments at FIU. If you need help in implementing any of your web needs, please contact us.
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