Accessibility, Equal Access, and the ADA (part three)

How do you know how accessible your content is? Here is a 6-step process that will give you a decent sense of things, courtesy of the good folks at the MIT Assistive Technology Information Center:

  1. Turn off images in your browser (make sure image place holders are turned on)
  2. Turn off support for JavaScript
  3. Try to navigate without a mouse, using only your tab key
  4. Try to change the standard font colors and styles in your browser
  5. Try to increase the font size by using the browser (view > text size > increase)
  6. Turn off support for stylesheets

If you’ve done the above steps and your site still makes sense, then you are on the right path. If you’d like a more extensive checklist, complete with examples, the WebAIM initiaive has one.

Here’s a long list of accessibility evaluation tools. Note that if you are going to be checking multiple web pages, a toolbar plugin is the preferred method. A toolbar plugin will allow you to check password-protected pages and pages with dynamically generated content. Here’s a good website evaluation tool – note that there’s also the option to download a Firefox toolbar and a beta version of a Dreamweaver extension. As you evaluate your content, you may find it helpful to consider the standards for federal websites, which serve as a decent baseline for the rest of us.

What does success look like? Here are two websites that have won awards for their accessibility to people with disabilities: The Rose Project and Bay Area Rapid Transit.

Last, for those individuals wishing to dig deeper, here’s a nice look at current case law and higher education institutions – everything  from service dogs to computerized tests to diagnosing disabilities. The links on the left-hand side of the page also provides a great overview of the ADA as it applies to universities.

(This is part of a series of posts on this topic. The first post offered an introductory look at disabilities in the higher education context; the second post covered accessible design principles.)

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