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 for web accessibility. At four 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 four campuses. The policies on five of the remaining 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." Two new policies, currently at the draft stage, deserve special mentioning: (1) At the UW-Eau Claire, an Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Work Group has drafted a set of documents including policy, standards and implementation plan (Minutes, 23 April, 2003). The group's concern for accessibility does not seem to be limited to web pages alone but appears to extend to information technology purchased from vendors (Minutes, 6 May, 2003). (2) At the UW-Stevens Point, a new Online Accessibility Policy has been drafted that, in addition to mandating that web pages comply with Section 508 (which simply reiterates the already existing state policy), 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. If approved, the UWSP Online Accessibility Task Force will tackle the development of a plan to implement the policy.
|UW-Eau Claire||10/8/2002||recomm.||recomm.||recomm.||recomm.||A new policy has been drafted (see text above).|
|UW-La Crosse||July 2003||mandatory||
|UW-Milwaukee||10/3/2001||Mandates accessibility; includes some specific design features.|
|UW-Parkside||2001||mandatory ?||mandatory ?||mandatory ?||Ambiguous language.|
|Ambiguous language; Use of both "should" and "must".|
|UW-River Falls||n.d., added after April 2001||recomm.||"Should," not "must," language.|
|UW-Stevens Point**||5/10/1999||recomm.||recomm.||recomm.||Current draft of new policy mandating Section 508 compliance.|
|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.
**Stevens Point's new "Online Accessibility Policy" draft also incorporates Section 508 compliance; its scope includes both web pages and web-based resources (such as library databases and course management software).
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State of Wisconsin Policies--Enterprise Standards for Information Technology: Deployment of Accessible Pages on the World Wide Web and Development of Accessible Applications
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 11/18/03 .
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