Accessibility is about designing for users with disabilities. Philosophically, it isn’t so much about designing for disability as it is about designing for everyone.
Accessibility compliance is also legally required.
Accessibility involves two key areas:
- how users with disabilities access electronic information
- how website owners enable websites and files to function with assistive devices used by individuals with disabilities
Approximately 15 percent of the world’s population experience some form of disability. When designing for digital platforms, we must consider the potential accessibility issues users will have. Barriers include
- visual (e.g., color blindness),
- motor/mobility (e.g., wheelchair-user concerns),
- auditory (hearing difficulties),
- seizures (especially photosensitive epilepsy) and
- learning (e.g., dyslexia).
We should also design to maximize ease of use when users of any ability are in stressful/mobile situations. By designing to reach all ability levels, we can produce output virtually anyone can use and enjoy (or find helpful and calming), whatever the context.
Designing for accessibility helps all users.
Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 are both standards by which the web is made accessible to persons with disabilities.
Section 508 is mandated by the federal government as part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. Although the law applies only to federal agencies, its guidelines should ideally be followed by all websites. Because Louisiana Tech receives federal funding, it is bound by these requirements. University Policy 1433 governs the University’s commitment to accessibility.
WCAG was implemented in 1999 by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), which was formed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to bring accessibility considerations into development. These two sets of rules and guidelines are very similar, and this guide will assist you in making your website compliant.
Louisiana Tech University has made a commitment to comply with the WCAG 2.0 standard. Accessibility guidelines – necessary elements when communicating online – are available on this website.
If you are interested in reading further on this topic, review the list of resources below. The Office of University Communications can help you implement any of these requirements on your site.
- w3.org WCAG Quick Reference
- w3.org WCAG Intro
- Section508.gov Laws and Policies
- Section508.gov Quick Reference Guide
- UX Planet Primer for Web Accessibility
Additional resources for ensuring accessibility in specific platforms: