We all benefit from digital accessibility
So many of the communication features you take advantage of were created for people with disabilities: the telephone, voice recognition, autocomplete, spell check, pinch-and-zoom, text-to-speech, and so on.
The effort you put in today, will ensure future compatibility, improve search results and help you out when you forget your glasses.
Learn more about why web accessibility means that all people can use the web in this article from A List Apart on "Reframing Accessibility for the Web".
The power of the Web is in its universality.
Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.
Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web
Benefits of digital accessibility
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Search engines read alt tags and transcripts
- Well-structured pages rank higher
- Social Responsibility – as a public entity, UC is held to the highest standards of access; inaccessible sites can damage UCSF's reputation
- Cleaner Navigation - works without a mouse
- Ease of use for all users - expanded user control
- Device independence - desktop, laptop, mobile, etc.
- More inclusive workplace – people with disabilities constitute 5-10% of our workforce and approximately 26% of the US population
- Bimodal presentation - can improve speech perceptibility
- Allows for more cost-effective online interaction - reduces calls and visits
One: understand the need
Get familiar with the concepts of alternative perception.
1) Color Blindness/Deficiencies and Perception
There are several types of color deficiencies affecting about 8% of the male population (about 2% for females). Shapes, textures, and contrast can be used in conjunction with color. Always provide adequate contrast between type and background.
2) Navigate with only your keyboard. Push your mouse aside and navigate with only your keyboard. You should be able to get around and interact completely with just the keyboard on a website.
Power users like keyboard commands
Keyboards are often the common denominator. Screen Readers, both Voice and Braille, as well as many other assistive devices are dependent on keyboard functions. Make interactivity and navigation elements easily accessible by tabbing.
3) Learn about assistive technologies (AT), there's more out there than just screen readers. Take these impressions into consideration in your planning, building, and testing.
The spectrum of ability
Visual:& Blind, low-vision, color-blind, forgotten reading glasses
Hearing:Deafness, hard-of-hearing, limited range hearing, no earbuds
Cognitive: Learning disabilities, distractibility, tired, neurodiversity.
Motor:Slower response time, limited fine motor control, on a bumpy shuttle
Being on a bumpy shuttle or not having your earbuds or glasses – "Those are disabilities?" you may question. Disabilities can be permanent, temporary or situational. It really does not matter why you may need to zoom in or read captions, what matters is that it is always possible.
By providing for the far reaches of accessibility you also include every situation in-between and then some.
Two: plan accessibility along with content creation
Color – Maintains a 4.5 contrast ratio to backgrounds
Documents – this includes Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint
Forms – Layout so title and field are perceivable from phone to assistive technology
Images – Provide text alternatives
Links – Do they make sense alone and go where expected?
PDF - Build accessibility into your original source file
Structure - Build the frame for the information you want to provide
Tables – never for layout and always use label elements
Video and audio – save transcripts and notes for the captioning, provide user controls
Virtual Events – tips for before and during an event
Three: test with WCAG 2.0
UCSF policy follows the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). There are 25 Guidelines for level AA conformance, organized by the four principles of Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust.
Meeting each guideline is being able to say yes to the “Success Criteria”. For example: Is there a way to get in and out of every component of the page (e.g. widget or control) using only the keyboard? Yes/No, Pass/Fail.
WCAG 2.0 and the four principles of accessibility
WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, written by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). WCAG 2.0 is often referred to as the gold standard for assessing web accessibility and compliance by court orders.
As a stable and internationally-recognized technical standard, it has 12 guidelines organized under 4 principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust, also referred to as POUR. For each guideline, there are testable success criteria, which are at three levels: A, AA, and AAA.
WCAG 2.1 is the latest version and is backwards compatible with the previous version, which means if you comply with WCAG 2.1, you automatically comply with WCAG 2.0.
Are you ready to go directly to using WCAG to achieve accessibility compliance? Use the How to Meet WCAG 2.0 power tool. It gets a little deep but use the filters, accordions, and checkboxes to set your view. For beginners, you may want to start with the W3C's Introduction to Understanding WCAG 2.0.
WCAG 2.0 Theme Song Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
Accessibility is part of UCSF’s mission
As the leading institution dedicated exclusively to the health sciences, we are committed to building a broadly diverse faculty, student, trainee and staff community, to nurture a culture that is welcoming and supportive, and to engage diverse ideas for the provision of culturally competent education, discovery and patient care. By providing web content in accessible formats, we ensure that online information and tools are accessible to everyone.
Accessibility vs. accommodation
There is a difference between accessibility and accommodation, they are not the same. For example, captions and transcripts are accessibility requirements, not accommodations.
Accessibility is an ongoing process, not a discrete feature of a website or web application.
- Accessibility is for populations and is proactive
- Accommodations are for individuals and are reactive
- Accessibility is the goal and accommodations are just tools to reach that goal
A great resource is from a July 2020 3Play Media webinar about online learning. The linked transcript has a section that begins with “So the first challenge, accessibility or accommodation?”
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