Web Accessibility Policies on UW campuses:

Compliance with major standards/guidelines


This page shows the situation in 2005. It is meant to be an archival page; it has, by intention, not been updated. Click here for the more current (2008) version.


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In the early years (1999-2001), the policies, guidelines and standards pertaining to the design of official and instructional web pages varied widely among University of Wisconsin campuses. Since 2002, this is no longer the case. The picture, as it currently reveals itself, is as follows: All thirteen UW campuses (Madison, Milwaukee, and comprehensives), plus the UW Extension, have policies in place that call, in some way, for web accessibility.  At five institutions, the policy unambiguously mandates compliance with the applicable parts of Section 508; a similarly clear mandate for (level A) compliance with the W3C/WAI's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) has been adopted by another three campuses. The policies on five of the remaining six campuses either merely recommend compliance with WCAG or Section 508, or use language too vague to constitute a clear-cut requirement. UW-Milwaukee's general web policy, which refers neither to Section 508 standards nor to WCAG, urges designers to "avoid design choices that create difficulties for persons with physical disabilities." Judged by the information posted to its web site, the UW-Whitewater appears to be at standstill with the development of its new policy, announced as early as Oct. 2001. Three campuses have recently finalized policy changes:  (1) At the UW-Eau Claire, efforts initiated by an Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Work Group over two years ago (Minutes, 23 April, 2003) resulted in a new policy reflecting commitment to accessible web page design. While the Minutes of May 6 , 2003, also indicate the group's concern for accessibility of vendor-procured information technology, the newly approved policy applies only to web pages and appears to merely recommend, not to require conformance to Section 508 standards. (2) While the UW-Platteville encourages compliance with WCAG guidelines down to the AAA level, its wording is too vague to constitute an unambiguopus requirement. The nice rationale provided for accessibility, and the campus-wide push towards XHTML is worth noting. (3) At the UW-Stevens Point, a new Online Accessibility Policy and Implementation Plan has just been approved (effective July 1, 2005) that, in addition to mandating that web pages comply with Section 508, directs all parties involved in the creation, modification, replacement or procurement of web-based resources (such as library databases and course management software) to strive for compliance with relevant Section 508 standards. Efforts to incorporate respective components into the campus policy, such as  IT and the library's collection development policies, are under way.

Table: Web Accessibility Policies on University of Wisconsin campuses

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Posted/Last Revised

Section 508 WCAG-A* WCAG-AA* WCAG-AAA* Comments
UW-Eau Claire 1/18/2005 recomm.       New policy expresses commitment to web page accessibility.
UW Extension 7/28/2001 mandatory recomm. recomm. recomm.  
UW-Green Bay 6/6/2001   mandatory recomm. suggested  
UW-La Crosse July 2003 mandatory recomm.
UW-Madison 5/1/2003 mandatory recomm. recomm. recomm.  
UW-Milwaukee 10/3/2001         Mandates accessibility; includes some specific design features.
UW-Oshkosh 5/23/2001   mandatory      
UW-Parkside 2001   recomm.;
Ambiguous language; "Web accessibility is a priority issue"
UW-Platteville 2/7/2005   recomm.
urges use of XHTML; nice rationale for web accessibility
UW-River Falls n.d., recomm.
      Accessibility is required; Section 508 used as a guide.
UW-Stevens Point 7/1/2005
mandatory recomm. recomm. recomm. Addresses web pages as well as online services and applications.
UW-Stout March 2001   mandatory      
UW-Superior May 2003 mandatory        
UW-Whitewater n.d.   recomm.**     Proposed Plan (10/23/01); if adopted WCAG-A compliance would become mandatory.

Notes and updates:

*WCAG refers to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines issued by the W3C/WAI.

**Recommended guidelines are an adaptation of WCAG 1.0. and 2.0.


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University of Wisconsin System Web Accessibility Policies

Web Page Accessibility on University of Wisconsin Campuses: Spring 2003 Survey Data

Compiled/created by Axel Schmetzke, Library, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Last updated 04/12/08 .
Comments, corrections, updates, etc. are welcome! aschmetz@uwsp.edu