Making Your Work Accessible Online

A person uses a braille reader
Unsplash @Sigmund

What is Web Accessibility?

Web Accessibility is the ability for individuals with vision, hearing, cognitive, and mobility disabilities to access web content online via their preferred methods.

WCAG defines web content as:

  • Natural information such as text, images, and sounds
  • Code or markup that defines structure, presentation, etc.

The essential components of web accessibility include:

  • Content
  • Web browsers
  • Assistive Technology
  • Users’ Experience
  • Developers
  • Authoring Tools
  • Evaluation Tools

Why It Matters

Individuals with disabilities not only use the web but also contribute to its functions. Website accessibility focuses on the needs of people with disabilities. However, by considering how to make information more available, interactive, and easy to use, we also make content more accessible for everyone.

A website that uses best practices for accessibility provides equitable access and opportunities to all its users, creates a great user experience, increases website interaction (multi-modal interaction), and enhances the overall usability of the site.

Introducing Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

The WCAG developed out of the World Wide Web Consortium’s (WC3) mission of developing international standards for the continued development of the web and the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative’s (WAI) mission to gather people from varying organizations to create guidelines and resources for people with disabilities.

The WCAG create “a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments” worldwide.

The WCAG has four accessibility principles, which forms the acronym, POUR:

  • Principle 1: Perceivable
    • The information and methods of interacting with hardware and software must be presented in ways that users can perceive. Examples include having text alternatives and using captioning in videos.
  • Principle 2: Operable
    • The hardware and software elements and navigation must be practical for users. Examples include ensuring keyboard accessibility and allowing users enough time to read and understand content.
  • Principle 3: Understandable
    • The information and the operation of hardware and software must be readable and understandable for users. Examples include ensuring that the text is easy to read and retaining the same style of program selections on different pages.
  • Principle 4: Robust
    • The content must have high compatibility so it can be interpreted by a variety of software used to access the web, including assistive technologies. Examples include parsing, that is, ensuring that html elements have start and end tags and screen readers.

Tips: Validate the accessibility of your website using these tools: Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools List

What has the University of Illinois Done to Meet these Standards?

University of Illinois web developers adhere to these web accessibility standards:

  • The Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act (IITAA)
  • Section 508 of the Reauthorized Rehabilitation Act of 1998
  • The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

The Main Library provides technological assistance via:

  • Hardware
    • Large Screen Monitors and Adjustable Tables
    • Clearview+ Magnification System
    • Braille Display
    • Tranquility Kits
  • Software
    • JAWS (Job Access With Speech)
    • Kurzweil 3000
    • ZoomText Magnifier/Reader
    • OpenBook
    • Dolphin EasyReader
    • OpenDyslexie

Please see Accessibility and Assistive Technology LibGuide for more information.

If you are interested in learning more about web accessibility and the WCAG, visit the WCAG website: https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/

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