Summary of 2014 Roadmap to Web Accessibility in Higher Education

3Play Media offers a great overview of the state of accessibility and some high-level guidance to achieving a state of accessibility.

I’m frequently relay best practices on accessibility to our team in the College of LSA Web Services. It has been extremely encouraging to see my co-workers take an interest in incorporating these principles to our design/creation process, but having individuals within the departments who are the content creators have this in the front of their minds when posting material is another windmill to chase.

While the Content Management System makes it easier for us to mandate a level of conformance to the standards there are things that they must take on themselves: Link text, alt text, captioning, etc.

I provide the summary here for your use and to return to it when the opportunity strikes within our constituent base.


  • The percentage of people who are disabled is increasing disproportionately with population growth.
  • Many higher education institutions have been reactive, not proactive, in their response to these developments and thus may find themselves at a disadvantage as accessibility laws tighten.

Highlights of high-profile disabilities
Cognitive or LearningDisabilities
Examples: Dyslexia, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), autism
Access Barrier: Timed participation may be difficult.

Auditory Disabilities
Examples:High noise hearing loss, conductive hearing loss, profound hearing loss, tinnitus
Access Barrier: Videos may lack captions.
[According to study by Johns Hopkins Medicine, more than 48 million people in the U.S. have an auditory disability.]

Visual Disabilities
Examples: Low vision, color blindness, legal blindness
Access Barrier: Web sites and electronic documents may not be accessible by keyboard. Videos may lack audio descriptions.

Motor Disabilities
Examples: Arthritis, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury
Access Barrier: Web sites with user interfaces that require precise control (e.g. small buttons).

7 principles of universal design

  • Equitable Use
  • Flexibility in Use
  • Simple & Intuitive Use
  • Perceptible Information
  • Tolerance for Error
  • Low Physical Effort
  • Size & Space for Approach & Use

High-level tips for designing accessible websites

  • Format: Use a standard page template.
  • Fonts: Use the default or common fonts that work well for web display, such as Arial, Georgia, or Verdana.
  • Color: Use high contrasting background and text color, preferably light background and dark text.
  • Images: Use alternative descriptive text (alt tags) to describe the content or function of every substantive image.
  • Tables: Specify the table and cell width in percentages rather than absolute pixels.
  • Links: Use descriptive anchor text rather than “click here.” Use the pipe character | to separate consecutive links. Do not use images as links because it is difficult to tell that they are clickable.
  • Transcripts: Provide a textual version
  • of the content that can be accessed by anyone.
  • Captions: Include time-synchronized text that can be read while watching a video.
  • Audio Description: Audio description is an audio track that describes what is happening visually in the video to illustrate diagrams and demonstrations.

White Paper – 2014 Roadmap to Web Accessibility in Higher Education.


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