External Accessibility Resources
The following are links to resources from organizations committed to web and digital accessibility. This page is by no means complete in such resources; numerous other companies, organizations, and universities also offer great aids for accessibility.
WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind), a nonprofit organization based at Utah State University, is a leading provider of web and digital accessibility information and training. The WebAIM website is probably your best resource on the Web for learning the basics of web accessibility.
The WebAIM website provides
- articles explaining why various accessibility techniques matter and how to use various techniques
- resources for testing accessibility, such as simulations of various disabilities
- a list of services that the organization offers, from on-ground trainings to webinars to accessibility evaluations
A sample of articles you will find especially useful includes
- Accessible Images
- Alternative Text
- PowerPoint Accessibility
- Microsoft Word: Creating Accessible Documents
Microsoft offers a free, 1-hour course on the use of Microsoft products to create materials usable by more of your students.
The Paciello Group provides consulting services to help organizations meet governmental and international accessibility standards. The company also provides accessibility testing tools, such as a downloadable “color contrast analyser.” This tool helps determine, based on WCAG 2.0 criteria, how legible your digital text is against its background.
Deque Systems, a web accessibility consulting company, provides Deque University, a training site comprising a full curriculum of self-paced web accessibility courses. You may subscribe (at an annual subscription cost) to a single course, multiple courses, or a full set of courses. If you have a disability, you may qualify for a year’s subscription to the full set at no charge.
The University of Washington published an entire set of Information Technology Accessibility Guidelines in 2015, and the institution looks to the WCAG 2.0 guidelines as its base for these guidelines. The university has created a complete “hub” for information about accessible technology, with such resources as an IT Accessibility Checklist, information about Creating Documents and Creating Videos, and Procuring IT.
A few years ago, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) filed a complaint against Penn State regarding lack of web accessibility for students and faculty. Penn State was determined to be at fault in the lawsuit, and as part of the settlement, the institution developed a corrective action strategy and an accessibility-based website. The website, which promotes accessibility and usability, comprises myriad resources to help make web and digital content accessible.
Accessible U is a website developed by University of Minnesota’s Disability Resource Center. The site emphasizes a three-pronged rationale for providing accessibility: it “improves usability for all,” “it’s the right thing to do,” and “it’s the law.” The website provides tutorials as well as resources for instructors, resources for web developers, and resources for advocates of web accessibility.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Information Accessibility Design and Policy Graduate Certificate
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is considered a leader in providing higher education to students with disabilities. The university has developed a three-course, fully online graduate certificate program focusing on technology accessibility and universal design principles and legal mandates related to such accessibility. (The certificate is tuition based, at just under $3000.)
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 were developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)’s Web Accessibility Initiative. These guidelines are “the gold standard for website accessibility,” as meeting them at the highest level ensures that your web content is accessible to as many users as possible, regardless of disability.
United States Access Board’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Final Standards and Guidelines (Section 508 Refresh)
Section 508, as an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that was signed into law in 1998, is a federal law that requires that federal programs and services provide information technology that is accessible to those with disabilities. Public universities are typically considered to be part of this requirement, as they receive federal funding. Section 508 is generally considered to be followed by institutions of higher learning, as such institutions receive federal funding. A refresh of Section 508 was published in early 2017, and those affected are required to comply with the new standards in early 2018. These refreshed standards incorporate the WCAG 2.0 guidelines by reference.
Federal accessibility standards (see Section 508, above) require that recorded videos be captioned. Creating captions for a video is not as simple as it might sound, as proper captions should be synchronized, equivalent, and accessible. They should include appropriate punctuation, capitalization, and consistency. The Described and Captioned Media Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by the National Association of the Deaf, provides the DCMP Captioning Key that provides guidelines for captioning of entertainment and educational media. A printable version of the Key is also available and periodically updated.