What is Web Accessibility?
Web accessibility refers to whether or not people with disabilities can easily use a website. Creating an accessible website is sort of like making a building accessible by installing wheelchair ramps. It’s an accommodation that provides people with disabilities equal access to resources.
However, web accessibility takes a wide variety of disabilities into account including:
- Vision— such as blindness, color blindness, glaucoma and cataracts
- Hearing — such as deafness and hearing loss
- Physical — such as cerebral palsy, paralysis and other conditions that make it difficult to use a mouse or keyboard
- Cognitive — such as epilepsy, dyslexia, migraines and reading disabilities
Why is Accessibility Important?
At it’s core, providing an accessible website is about considering the needs of those with disabilities. It’s simply the right thing to do so that everyone can use the website easily. Additionally, many of the accessibility criteria benefit people without disabilities too, such as using headings to organize information or descriptive link text.
But there is also a legal push to be accessible as well. As a state university, WSU is required to comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, a large piece of legislation that protects the rights of people with disabilities. Specifically, we need to meet WCAG 2.0 levels A and AA by Jan. 2018.
If we make no effort to bring the website up to accessibility standards, WSU could be open to lawsuits.
How the Web Team Ensures Accessibility
There are many criteria outlined in the WCAG 2.0 documentation, so web accessiblity is an ongoing process. The Web Team performs routine scans of the WSU website and fixes errors that are flagged.
Most of the time, we make the necessary fixes right away--especially for relatively small changes such as link text, photo alt text and text styling.
We may contact the department involved if there are larger changes such as:
- re-organizing content
- making more accessible navigation
- improving readability levels
- creating accessible audio and video files
We will also review submitted web requests to make sure that new accessibility errors are not created as we update content, files and images across the website.