Drafted by the UWSP Online Accessibility Task Force (OATF)
Web Accessibility Policy
Under Title II of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point must make its services and programs accessible to all members of the campus community, including those with disabilities. Increasingly, the UWSP uses the web to deliver its programs and services. At UW system level, several policies acknowledge the need for an accessible web environment (Report of the Committee on Access to Technology for Individuals with Disabilities; Ed Meachen's Directive to UW institutions on behalf of President Lyall; Standards for Academic and Student Support Services in Distance Education Credit Courses, Degree and Certificate Programs; UW System Policy on Library Support for Distance Education, Extended Education, Students and Faculty). At State level, a newly passed policy revision requires agencies to develop pages accessible to users of adaptive technology by conforming to Section 508, included in the 1998 amendments to the US federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (State of Wisconsin Enterprise Standards for Information Technology 605; effective June 1, 2003). Seeking compliance with State and UW system directives, this policy addresses, for our campus, the ADA requirement in a pro-active manner by mandating, within reasonable limits, a barrier-free design of its web resources; it thus puts in place a viable alternative to less welcoming, less inclusive, often costly and often difficult-to-implement approaches towards meeting the needs of people with disabilities in an ad hoc, on-demand-only fashion.
This policy is concerned with the accessibility of all online resources supporting UWSP’s mission, including web pages, web-based information resources (such as journal databases), web-based instructional applications (such as courseware and simulations) and online services (such as e-mail, web-based administrative functions and forms). For web pages, compliance criteria are particularly stringent.
UWSP web pages
At a minimum, and subject to the limitations stated in the following two paragraphs, web pages hosted on UWSP servers and tied, either directly or indirectly, to the campus’ mission must comply with the relevant subsection of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Section 508--especially Subsection 1194.22, a. through p.). In addition, web designers are strongly encouraged to apply the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Users should be able to access the content of web pages with text-only browsers. Accessibility evaluation tools, such as Bobby and A-Prompt, are helpful in identifying some of the major barriers. A comprehensive resource guide to accessible web design is available at http://library.uwsp.edu/aschmetz/Accessible/pub_resources.htm.
Essentially, all web pages hosted on UWSP servers fall under the purview of this policy—except for those personal student and faculty web pages that do not support instructional or research-related activities.
All new web pages, as well as those undergoing a major revision, must comply with this policy immediately. All other pages will have to be brought into compliance within the following time spans starting with the date of approval of this policy:
UWSP web-based resources (other than web pages)
All parties involved in the creation, modification, replacement or procurement of web-based resources must strive for compliance with relevant Section 508 standards (especially, but not exclusively, Subsections 1194.2, 1194.21 and 1194.22). Where applicable, measures in the pursuit of accessible solutions must include, but are not limited to
Exceptions and Responsibilities
This policy acknowledges that full accessibility of web resources may not always be feasible—be it because of the essence of the program, because of the nature of the application, because of the lack of viable accessible alternatives, because of a limited market situation or because the imposition of an undue financial burden. When a not fully accessible product is developed or procured, efforts in pursuit of a barrier-free solution must be well documented. Units failing to consider accessibility and to document their efforts must be prepared to promptly render inaccessible products, services or programs in an accessible format whenever there is a legitimate request—by either re-designing, or “fixing,” the web resources in question or by providing their content in a suitable alternative format. The Disability Services Office/ADA coordinator may be called upon to determine the legitimacy of a person’s request, and to assist in determining appropriate means to deliver the inaccessible information.
To enforce this policy, a detailed implementation plan will be developed. While this plan is based on the assumption that training and education, along with technical support, is the major conduit for web accessibility compliance, it will also address a number of other measures:
This policy and its concomitant implementation plan will be reviewed every three years—or earlier if deemed necessary by either the University Technology Committee (UTC), the Disability Services Office, or Instructional Technology. At a minimum, the review committee shall include one representative each of the UTC, the faculty, the Disability Services Office, the Library, the UWSP Extension, and Instructional Technology, as well as a student and, if available, a person with a disability who is affected by this policy. The UTC shall be responsible for forming the review committee. The review shall be a public process, open to comments and suggestions from other persons or units on campus.
Definitions of Policy Terms
Accessibility In Web pages, it refers to the ability of a Web page to be viewed by everyone, especially people with disabilities who use various assistive technologies. Accessible Web pages take into account the special needs of visitors with auditory, visual, mobility and cognitive impairments and give those users an equivalent browsing experience to that of non-disabled visitors.
ADA Americans with Disabilities Act. Bill passed in 1990 to provide equal protection and access to public accommodations to people with a variety of disabilities including visual, auditory, mobility, and other mental and physical health-related conditions. The bill requires that businesses with 15 or more employees make their facilities and equipment (including information technology) accessible to the disabled. Learn more at the Department of Justice ADA information page (see http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/adahom1.htm).
A-Prompt Similar to Bobby, A-Prompt is a tool that helps to identify accessibility barriers on web pages. To a limited extend, it will also fix certain accessibility problems.
Barrier-free design Here used in the same sense as accessible design or universal design: design that seeks to accommodate the needs of a wide spectrum of people, including those with sensory, mobility and cognitive disabilities. Barrier-free web design seeks to avoid design components that make it impossible for a person with a certain disability to navigate a web site and to access its information.
Bobby A Software package available for use online or through download that evaluates Web pages for accessibility mainly to visually impaired users. Sites that pass are entitled to display the "Bobby Approved" icon. However, that icon does not mean that those sites also comply with all of Section 508's accessibility requirements. Download Bobby at the Bobby Web site. (see http://bobby.watchfire.com/bobby/html/en/index.jsp)
Developed Here: Authored and Developed in-house, as opposed to “procured from a vendor.”
Faculty-created course-related pages Web pages that have been authored and developed by an instructor and that contain information about a course (such as a syllabus), information to be used for a course (reading materials) or other content (tests, simulations, video and audio clips, interviews etc.)
Frequently visited pages Web pages that are more frequently accessed than other pages because they function as navigational gateways to popular pages or because they themselves contain important information.
Home pages The first page or front page of a Web site, which serves as the starting point for navigation. On the UWSP Web, the home page is the main campus Web site or the “start” pages for each department, service, organization, or office. See also Top-Level Pages.
Procured Purchased, leased, licensed from, or contracted from a company or vendor.
Screen Reader Software that reads the content of a computer screen aloud. Screen readers can only interpret text content, so all graphic and multimedia must have alternative text descriptions using ALT text, captions, transcripts, or other methods.
Section 508 Section 508 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which requires that electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the Federal government be accessible to people with disabilities. On August 7, 1998, the President signed into law the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, which includes the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. Section 508 was originally added to the Rehabilitation Act in 1986; the 1998 amendments significantly expand and strengthen the technology access requirements in Section 508. Learn more about Section 508 from the Federal Access Board. States that receive funding under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998 must comply with Section 508 guidelines. See the Department of Justice Section 508 page at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/508/508home.html for additional information.
Top-level pages Web sites are typically hierarchically organized. The pages at the top of this hierarchy are referred to here as “top-level pages.” For a given site, they include the home page of a campus unit as well as the next layer of web pages directly linked to it (excluding external links). See also Home Page.
Vendor Person or company that offers to sell, lease, license or contract out certain products and services, or access to such products and services, such as course-management systems (courseware) or journal literature databases.
Web accessibility compliance Compliance with widely accepted methods of creating web resources according to principles of accessible (or universal) design, i.e. a design that seeks to accommodate the needs of a wide spectrum of people, including those with sensory, mobility and cognitive disabilities.
Web pages Usually a single HTML file that contains text, visual and sometimes audio components, is part of a Web site, and has an individual file name assigned to it. Individual web pages are typically part of a larger, hierarchically organized unit, referred to as a web site.
Web-based resources 1.) Complex and often highly dynamic resources which can be accessed via the web. Often, these resources originated as web-independent applications, such as CD-ROMs or software databases. Examples include databases, games, simulations, calculators, and web-based chat rooms. 2.)( Larger units of information resources, such as books, journals, magazines, theses, film, photo and audio collections, archival materials, etc., that are digitized and made available through the web.
University of Wisconsin System Web Accessibility Policies
Web Page Accessibility on University of Wisconsin Campuses: Spring 2003 Survey Data
Posted by Axel Schmetzke, Library, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Last updated 10/23/03 .
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