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We received good feedback from our Year 2 Survey and we are making plans to follow through on some of the suggestions that WAHEP team participants made. I think that we are primed to do some great work together under the WAHEP umbrella. You should expect to hear from us soon about getting some on-site visits set up, as we heard that being on your campus will help many of you to continue to make progress.
Several institutions indicated that they would benefit from some more focused assistance than what is provided for under the WAHEP. We would love to help! Whether you would like to have an additional web site review done or some more in-depth, customized training performed, we are happy to take requests. To get an idea of the sort of things that we can do, please take a look at our Services page to learn more about available services and associated fees.
The most recent settlement involving an inaccessible digital environment on campus comes between Louisiana Tech University and the Department of Justice. The settlement is here, and Inside Higher Ed has a good article about it as well. I also have some thoughts about it.
Within about a week of the announcement of the Louisiana Tech settlement, the Department of Justice pushed back Notices of Proposed Rulemaking for Section 508 refresh and changes to Titles II and III of the ADA.
Section 508 holds the standards for the federal government and serves as the foundation for many individual state’s accessibility standards, including ours in Oklahoma.
Title II of the ADA covers public entities, including public higher education. And Title III of the ADA applies to “places of public accommodation”, which includes private institutions and organizations.
The original schedule was for Advanced Notices of Proposed Rulemaking to arrive for Section 508 and Title II of the ADA in June. These have been pushed back to next month. The NPRM for Title III of the ADA was pushed from November to March, 2014.
Don’t let the delay fool you into thinking that digital accessibility is not a priority for DoJ, though.Obviously they continue to make their point through structured negotiations that come out of complaints of discrimination.
If you take a look through the Memorandum of Understanding that your institutions signed, then you’ll see that your primary web site is due for a checkup halfway through the project. That puts us a little over a year out from another accessibility evaluation on the site that WebAIM evaluated a year or so ago. That gives you plenty of time to update your site and make it more accessible, if you have not already started that process.
I have spoken to several of you whose institutions are redoing their web sites. A web site redesign is a fantastic time to build accessibility in from the beginning. If your redesign happens in-house, then spend some extra time to make templates accessible. Put together or update your style guide to include accessibility tips alongside your style requirements.
If you’re outsourcing the redesign then make sure that your vendor selection process includes a conversation about the vendor’s ability to make your template and any content that they compile accessible. Can they provide you with captions for web-based video and transcripts for podcasts? Do they know about color contrast requirements and making sure that form fields are associated with their labels under the hood? Make sure that what they deliver to you is accessible or supports accessibility.
If your site is not up for a redesign, then start a little bit at a time. Plan a few extra minutes each time you update content on a page in the site and use that time to make it more accessible. Check for properly marked up headings, lists and tables. Check your color contrast and look for alternative text that conveys the intended meaning of visual elements. There is more to accessibility than those few things, but if you take it a step at a time then you’ll find your site more accessible pretty quickly.
And if your site is content managed and you have content managers all over campus, then work with them to make sure that they are helping to make the site more accessible every time that they touch a page.
Don’t forget that our webinar series is archived! If you have missed any of the webinars or want to revisit them, then click through to our Webinars page and look for the Archive section.
As a reminder, here are the topics that we have covered: