Is Your Website Accessible?


Access for the 21st Century

There has been a great deal of talk in recent months about the importance, necessity, and urgency of making institutional websites accessible to people with disabilities. This web page has been compiled to provide, in one location, a kind of “Beginners Guide to Website Access for Colleges and Universities” I am NOT the best person to tell you all about how to make your website accessible, although I can provide some excellent resources, to be passed along to your local “techies” that will provide that information. But I think NOW is the time to deal with this issue, for a number of reasons. Certainly, on many campuses, focusing attention on new technology run amuck (at the cost of accessibility) is long overdue. But, a basic tenet of management maintains that, “in a bureaucracy, the way to get something done is to make your problem their problem.” A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education highlighted this issue to the postsecondary community at large. In many cases, the article represented a wake-up call — for the first time, high level administrators were confronted with their responsibilities in this regard. The concern is no longer limited to the disability services community simply talking among themselves. SO LET’S MAKE THE MOST OF IT!!! Let’s take advantage of the opening the Chronicle has provided to proceed with all due haste to make a difference on our campuses. Here is some basic information to get you started. (Please feel free to copy and disseminate any of this information you feel might be useful in making your case on campus).

Just to recap:

  • WHO: All colleges and universities, public and private
  • WHAT: An obligation to make both appropriate technology and your institutional web presence accessible to all, including those with disabilities who may need/use assistive technology to access computers and the internet
  • WHERE: Coming soon to institutional websites and computer labs near you!
  • WHEN: Yesterday (…but if you aren’t there yet, now is the time to start working towards that goal)
  • WHY: Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (bolstered by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) institutions of higher education are clearly responsible for making all programs, activities, and opportunities equally available to qualified individuals with disabilities. As higher education (and higher education institutions!) becomes increasingly web-based, there is a clear obligation to assure programmatic access through attention to the accessibility of both the institutional web presence and the technology needed to reach it.
  • HOW: First, there must be understanding and commitment on the part of institutional leadership as to the institutional obligation to move with all due haste to meet this requirement. Links below will provide background information and appropriate rhetoric (arguments?) to present in making that case. Other links will offer specific suggestions for resources to assist the technology folks on campus in understanding the issues and establishing appropriate protocols.

MOST RECENT INFORMATION

Article from the Chronicle of Higher Education

Follow-up posts regarding the impact of Section 508 on Colleges/Universities

RELATED INFORMATION — THE NEED FOR WEBSITE ACCESSIBILITY

Articles from the DAIS Newsletter, Spring, 1998

URGENT!!! ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY IS CRITICAL
(Excerpt from DAIS Newsletter, Volume II, No. 2)
Jane E. Jarrow, Ph.D.

…FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS
Will Technology Level the Playing Field or
Send Us Sliding Downhill?
(Excerpt from DAIS Newsletter, Volume II, No. 3)

ACCESS TO INSTITUTIONAL ONLINE PRESENCE
“The Hurrieder I Go, the Behinder I Get!”
(Excerpted from DAIS Newsletter, Volume II, No 4)

GETTING INTO PRACTICE AT PRACTICING WHAT IS PREACHED
Is Your Webpage Accessible?
(Excerpted from DAIS Newsletter, Volume II, No. 5)

Making Commercial Websites Accessible

Advocates of People With Disabilities Take Online Stores to Task

Making Your Case On Campus

Ten Things You Can (Should?) (MUST?) Do to Improve Technology Access On Your Campus

Selfish Reasons for Accessible Web Authoring

Resources For Getting The Job Done