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Before anyone can make their website accessible, they must understand accessibility, be committed to ensuring accessibility, learn how to implement accessibility, and understand their legal obligations.

Source: WebAIM.

Campus Policy Requires Accessible Web Content

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is committed to providing everyone the opportunity to succeed and participate independently in a welcoming environment. We are committed to creating an inclusive digital experience. The University community will deliver accessible Digital Material with the knowledge that accessibility enhances usability for everyone.

UNC’s digital accessibility policy adheres to the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 level AA. Anyone creating digital content at UNC is responsible for creating content that complies with these criteria.


Other Accessibility Regulations

 

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Title III of the ADA has been interpreted by U.S. courts to apply to web sites and applications. It mandates that public accommodation must be provided to disabled persons to allow for the “full and equal enjoyment” of the related privileges, goods, services, advantages and accommodations as those provided to able-bodied persons.

Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires Federal agencies to ensure that people with disabilities have comparable access to and use of electronic information technology as well as an equal opportunity to participate in, and have access to, program benefits and services.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) as the governing standards for electronic and information technologies. These guidelines are the basis of most web accessibility laws in the world.

It’s the Law

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, accessible site design is not just a good idea, it’s the law.

“If a government entity receives Federal funding, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, generally require that State and local governments provide qualified individuals with disabilities equal access to their programs, services, or activities unless doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of their programs, services, or activities or would impose an undue burden. One way to help meet these requirements is to ensure that government websites have accessible features for people with disabilities.”


4 Principles of Digital Accessibility

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provides a set of guidelines. They are developed by the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C), the governing body of the web. These guidelines, the basis of most web accessibility laws in the world, are based on four principles:

Perceivable

Site visitors must be able to process the information presented on a web site. Information that is not processable is not accessible.

  1. Provide alternative text for non-text items (such as images).
  2. Add captions to video and transcripts to audio.
  3. Use headings to communicate document structure.
  4. Ensure form fields have labels and prompts.
  5. Avoid using color to communicate information.
  6. Ensure sufficient contrast between text color and background color.
  7. Ensure content scales well.

Operable

Users should be able to use all the functions of your website regardless of whether they use a keyboard and mouse or other type of assistive technology.

  1. Ensure all site functionality (menus, links, buttons, etc.) can be operated with a keyboard.
  2. Provide meaningful link text that can be understood independent of context.
  3. Give users enough time to read and use content.
  4. Ensure features that scroll or update automatically (e.g., slideshows, carousels) have prominent accessible controls that allow users to pause or advance these features on their own.
    Read why we discourage the use of sliders.
  5. Avoid using content that flashes or flickers.
  6. Ensure page, post and event titles provide a meaningful title that describes its topic or purpose.

Understandable

Develop content that is clear and concise and that takes into account people who have difficulty comprehending, remembering, or focusing.

  1. Make text clear and readable.
  2. Make content appear and behave in predictable ways.
  3. Navigation should be used consistently across a site.
  4. Forms should follow a logical flow and provide clear labels.

Robust

Your site should follow recognized standards and conventions for the web.

  1. Present content so that it works now and will continue to work into the foreseeable future.
  2. Within limits, websites should work well across platforms, browsers, and devices.
  3. Web content should be coded using valid HTML.

 

Web Accessibility Lawsuits are on the Rise

“According to calculations by the Chicago-based law firm Seyfarth Shaw, the first half of 2019 saw a 12% increase in ADA Title III lawsuits filed in federal court over the same time period in 2018 (5,592 vs. 4,965). The reason: Digital assets, primarily websites that are meant to serve the public, don’t always offer accessibility features for people with disabilities.”

Fortune Magazine


Resources

  1. The Cost of Ignoring Website Accessibility – Website accessibility is central to inclusive design and something we should all strive for. But beyond the ethical question of openness, and the demonstrable business benefit of maximizing your number of users, sites that aren’t accessible are vulnerable to lawsuits. George Nguyen looks at how much trouble you could be in.
  2. Introduction to the Americans with Disabilities Act