Web Accessibility is part of the spectrum of delivering equal educational opportunities to all students. With more and more of our communication and school work being accessed online, the issue of website accessibility has come to the forefront of the accessibility discussion.
History of Web Accessibility
Protection for people with disabilities began when the first federal civil rights protection – the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – was legislated. This legislation was followed by the American Disabilities Act in 1990.
With the advent of electronic forms and other internet technologies, the Rehabilitation Act was amended in 1998 to require federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities in a way that is comparable to the access available to others.
In 1999, the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) developed WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 1.0 to provide a single shared standard for web content accessibility. WCAG 2.0 standards was published in 2008.
Defining Web Accessibility
Web accessibility is website design and development that ensures people with disabilities will be able to use the website. A range of disabilities need to be considered, including auditory, visual, cognitive, neurological and physical disabilities.
Demystifying Web Accessibility Guidelines
The full WCAG 2.0 document (see above for link), can be quite daunting. This is partially because the document goes into detail about the meaning behind each item and then gives examples for how to meet the guideline. There are some basic questions that can help understand the bulk of the guidelines:
- Does your non-text content have text alternatives?
- Can your time-based audio or video be paused and restarted?
- Does your audio or video have an alternative? (captions, transcripts, audio description of video, sign language interpretation)
- Is information conveyed in a graphic available in text?
- Is the sequence (tab order) on a webpage in a good order?
- Is your color contrast different enough?
- Can text be resized? When resizing or zooming, does text wrap appropriately?
- Can the webpage be operating using a keyboard only?
- Do users have enough time to read and use content if there is a time limit set?
- Can the user pause or stop moving, blinking or scrolling content?
- Is your content seizure-disorder safe? (be careful with flashing content)
- Do your page titles describe the page sufficiently? (the page title would be used with a screen reader to let the user know which page they are on)