Ideas, insights and inspirations.

In a recent post titled “ADA Accessibility Compliance for College and University Websites,” the question of how to ensure WCAG 2.0 compliance was covered briefly. In this post, I will expand on a couple of the challenges of making an existing website compliant. A trip to the theme park Bringing an existing website into compliance can be extremely tedious depending on the technology it was initially created with, any subsequent patches to this technology, and any themes, plug-ins, or modules which extend the site’s functionality. For example, let’s consider an existing website using WordPress, which by some accounts powers 26% of the Web, and commands almost 60% of the Content Management System (CMS) market share. While WordPress is a great open-source CMS, and affords you lots of control over the content being generated, their ecosystem does not come without caveats. On top of WordPress’s back-end core of functional code and database, sits the visual design in the form of theme … Continue reading

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In order for a web page to be successful, a user must visit the page. Getting a user to visit the URL is a great struggle, but after they make that decision there are dozens upon dozens of reasons why they will leave, and sometimes leave before you can get a chance to make an impression. Page loading speed, an intriguing design, and engaging content will help keep your viewers on the page, but for user with accessibility needs (be it visual, auditory, or physical), reasons for leaving your site may be overlooked. Part of ensuring accessibility to all users means following web standards which value proper use of HTML elements, using CSS responsibly, and designing for all types of users on all types of devices. Most development teams have milestones in the software life cycle where they check for accessibility issues—this usually falls near the end of the project. We use several software tools at our disposal that can … Continue reading

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The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990/2008 (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 require colleges and universities to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to programs, services and activities. This extends well beyond making sidewalks, entryways and classrooms accessible. It includes websites too. Why has this topic become important lately? Growth of non-traditional student population, people spending as much time in virtual environments as built ones, legislation catching up, and ready availability of assistive technologies are all fueling interest and greater scrutiny in this area. A recent New York Times article covered the story of individuals and law firms from around the country who have begun to make a lucrative business out of demanding compliance from public institutions, and taking legal action against those who don’t. Education Week featured a story about a disability advocate in Michigan who filed 500 complaints with the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), which is mandated to demand compliance when … Continue reading

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