Accessibility 101

stands for

Why? There are 11 characters between the starting “a” and ending “y”.

What is digital accessibility and who needs it?

Digital accessibility is the practice of making sure that websites, applications, files, and digital tools are designed and built in such a way that they can be used by people of all abilities.

This includes people with physical, visual, auditory, and cognitive impairments, and people with learning disabilities.

Disabilities have varying degrees of permanence and there are many types.

TouchNew parent
Arm injury
One arm
person with an amputated arm.
Person walking and not paying attention,
Person with cataracts who needs glasses to see.
Person in a loud environment.
Ear infection
Person with an ear infection.
Deaf person using sign language.
SpeakHeavy accent
Person with a heavy accent talking on phone.
Person sick with laryngitis.
Person holding a written note and who does not have verbal communication skills.
Drunk person.

Importance of Digital Accessibility

  1. Accessibility is a legal requirement: In the United States, digital accessibility is mandated by law under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This means that websites, online resources, and other digital content must be accessible to people with disabilities, including those with visual, auditory, or mobility impairments. This requirement applies to all industries and sectors, and it is a responsibility that falls on everyone who creates and shares digital content. The university is required to pass Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA standards and is encouraged to develop and plan for new products to use 2.1 AA standards.
  2. Accessibility is a social responsibility: Beyond legal requirements, digital accessibility is a social responsibility. By making digital content accessible, we can ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to information, services, and opportunities. This can help to reduce discrimination, promote inclusion, and create a more equitable society.
  3. Accessibility can impact job opportunities: Who wants to make more money? Employers increasingly value digital accessibility skills when hiring communicators, designers, content creators, web developers, and other digital professionals. Those who understand digital accessibility and have experience creating accessible content will have a competitive advantage in the job market. Additionally, employers may be more likely to hire candidates who demonstrate a commitment to accessibility and social responsibility.
  4. Accessibility can improve the user experience for everyone: Creating accessible digital content not only benefits people with disabilities but also improves the user experience for everyone. For example, accessible websites are often easier to navigate, faster to load, and more consistent across different devices and platforms. By designing with accessibility in mind, students can create better products that meet the needs of a diverse range of users.

Consuming Digital Media

  1. Text: Read it to yourself.
    It can also be accessed through text-to-speech software or other assistive technologies that read to you.
  2. Audio: Listen to it.
    It can also be accessed through text-to-speech software or other assistive technologies. Can’t hear? Turn on closed captioning and read it.
  3. Video: Watch it.
    Can’t hear it or see it? It can also be accessed through closed captioning or other assistive technologies.
  4. Images: Look at them.
    Can’t see well? Use image alternative text, recognition software, or other assistive technologies.

Target audience with disabilities

Let’s explore some other examples of our prospective students and parents that don’t include permanent disabilities.

Thinking about your general audience, what are some ways that they might have a temporary or situational disability?

  • a parent researching their child’s future college while the younger children are playing loudly nearby – maybe they need closed captioning?
  • a student that just recovered from spraining their finger in gym class and now has a splint on their dominant hand. They might use the keyboard to get through a page.
  • a prospective student’s mouse just ran out of batteries and they don’t have any at home. They might use the keyboard.
  • How about someone with a horrible case of pinkeye or severe allergies? How will they interact with your website or emails?

How much did your target audience with needs just grow? What other scenarios can you think of?

Print vs. Digital

Is there a difference anymore? Not nearly as much in my personal opinion.

Most of what we create today gets transmitted electronically via email or put online in some fashion instead of printed only. We need to design and create documents in the same fashion we do on web pages as well as traditional files such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. We need to make sure our pdfs are accessible.

It’s not just kind. It’s the right thing to do and it benefits EVERYONE!

How does this affect YOU?

  • Websites
  • Social media graphics
  • Fliers
  • Event Invitations
  • Presentations
  • PDFs
  • Emails
  • Portfolio
  • Resume