Web accessibility tips for a less-techy audience

September 19, 2012 by JoLynne Lyon

If an academic website is accessible across all its pages, the faculty and staff who contribute to it will all create and post accessible information.

Unfortunately, not all of these content creators are technological wizards. They may lack a basic understanding of web accessibility for people with disabilities.

With them in mind, staff at the CPD’s GOALS (Gaining Online Accessible Learning through Self-Study) project developed six accessibility cheat sheets for a less-techy audience. These give advice on creating accessible Microsoft Word documents, Power Points, PDF files converted from Microsoft Word, PDF files created in Adobe Acrobat X, PDF files created in Adobe InDesign, and captioned You Tube videos.

Project GOALS is  within the National Center on Disability and Access of Education. It aims to make materials more accessible in higher education, and it’s supported by Utah State University and the Center for Persons with Disabilities.

Its cheat sheeets will give laypeople a variety of accessibility tips, including how to provide alternate text with photos so that people who cannot see them will still receive the information they convey. They show how to caption video for people who cannot hear, and how to create columns and tables that will make sense when they are read by screen-reading technology.

You can find more information on the NCDAE blog, which explores the nuts and bolts of accessibility in greater depth.


Screen Reader Survey results, fourth edition

June 1, 2012 by JoLynne Lyon

Since 2009, the WebAIM team has worked to better understand web accessibility by surveying people who use screen readers. The results of their latest survey are out, and 93 percent of the respondents are people who use the technology because of a disability.

Among the findings:

The use of Apple mobile platforms is rising sharply among survey participants with disabilities, presumably because they find them more accessible.

Free screen readers are a viable alternative to commercial ones, according to 66.5 percent of respondents.

Web content has become more accessible over the past year, according to 35 percent of the people who responded. Forty percent said accessibility is unchanged, and 25 percent said it’s gotten worse.

For more on the survey–and to read the list of the web’s 12 most frustratingly inaccessible design problems–go to the WebAIM site and read the full results.

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Brown Bag Discussion: Web Accessibility–not rocket science!

May 8, 2012 by cpehrson

Did you know that 8.5 % of the population has a disability that affects their ability to use a computer?

According to WebAIM’s presenters at the last CPD Brown Bag Discussion (Jared Smith, Jon Whiting, Tom Galloway, & Dio Hernandez) , when we talk about web accessibility, we’re not talking about rocket science.  There are “information systems flexible enough to meet the needs of the broadest range of users…regardless of age or disability.”

Whether we are talking about vision/hearing impairments, motor, or cognitive impairments, there is an application or accommodation that will expand the user’s ability to operate a computer.  And WebAIM knows them all!

One of the great things that has come out of WebAIM is its web accessibility evaluation tool called WAVE.  Anyone can test how accessible their web page or entire web site is, simply by inputting an URL address and reading the results.  Not only does WAVE let you know what is inaccessible, it can help tell you how to fix it.  It couldn’t be easier.

You should check out the WebAIM web site and try out the WAVE tool. You will also find articles and resources, training and technical assistance, newsletters, blogs, checklists and guides for accessibility.

WebAIM is a great resource and provides a valuable service in this computer age.




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GOALS is making postsecondary education accessible for all

November 10, 2011 by cpehrson

Photo of a girl at a computer

Using the internet is essential in gaining a postsecondary education today. Students, faculty, and staff must have access to institutional web content for many educational activities.

However, if websites that provide necessary information are not accessible, those with disabilities may not be able to independently complete their daily assignments or compete with their peers.  The most accessible webpage in the world is still inaccessible if a user with disabilities must navigate inaccessible pages to get to it.

The Gaining Online Accessible Learning through Self-study (GOALS) project developed an innovative solution to this issue by designing an online self-study tool. It helps colleges and universities evaluate their system-wide web accessibility efforts and improve their accessibility across all departments.

This Benchmarking & Planning Tool will begin its next round of invitation-only testing in early 2012. For the next three years, GOALS will work with its partners to help inform colleges and universities about the Tool and get them on board.  Top level administrators must be involved to promote the institution-wide changes necessary, and a team of key players must work together to address and maintain web accessibility.

If you would like your institution to take part in the next round of testing, please contact the National Center on Disability and Access to Education.

This tool first guides the team through a self-study process by asking them a series of questions. These questions are used to create a snapshot of the institution’s web accessibility efforts. Team members will then be able to compare these snapshots with their own past responses, and with combined responses from similar institutions (e.g. other community colleges).

The tool also assists the institution’s team in creating a plan to guide the process of sustaining their campus-wide web accessibility. GOALS staff then continues to provide resources and support to institutions as they implement their plan.
Along with supporting the use of the Benchmark Tool, GOALS will focus on adding institutional web accessibility to regional accreditation process.  This will ensure that an institution will meet high standards of web-accessibility in order to be accredited.

Project GOALS is a project of the National Center on Disability and Access to Education (NCDAE), an initiative of the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University.

This blog entry was updated on 12/19/11.

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Reminder: Web Accessibility Training in March

February 15, 2011 by cpehrson

WebAIM is holding a two-day Web Accessibility training on March 2-3, 2011 in Logan, Utah for those who want to ensure that their web site is completely accessible.

The training is geared primarily for web developers, however web administrators, content providers, and instructors will also benefit.

This training session will teach everything from basic web accessibility principles to advanced accessibility techniques.  It will cover everything needed to make sure a web site meets legal guidelines and international standards.

Participants should have a basic understanding of the fundamentals of HTML and web development techniques. No prior web accessibility knowledge is required.

Registration is limited to ensure you get individualized attention. Register early on the WebAIM web site.

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