Accessibility for the Web

New York State Office for Technology Policy P04-002 requires that "all New York State agencies' web sites provide universal accessibility to persons with disabilities." Please read the specific standards to which we are being held. To help us achieve compliance with this mandate, New York State Forum's IT Accessibility Committee has developed a helpful curriculum on accessible Web publishing. They have also published a BEST PRACTICE GUIDELINE G06-001 for accessibility of state agency Web-based intranet and Internet information and applications.

What is web content accessibility?

Accessibility is a measure of how easy it is to access, read, and understand the content of a web site, particularly via "nonstandard" access methods (i.e., browsers that read a web page to a non-sighted person).

Why is it important?

Approximately 10% of all web users are persons with disabilities, many of whom are using assistive web technologies.

Designing for accessibility also makes web pages available to the growing number of users who surf the web with mobile phones, PDAs and automobile accessories, making your pages accessible to the widest possible audience.

PCWorld.com explains it well in the article Locking out the disabled .

Which pages on campus must comply?

All "official" and "authorized" pages must be accessible.

Official pages include the home page and all subsidiary pages related to the mission of the institution (i.e., the catalog, schedules, institutional policies, etc.).

Authorized pages are those with the endorsement of a specific division, department or other unit that publishes and maintains them and are linked to the official campus pages.

Personal pages are currently exempt, unless they are being used in support of coursework or as authorized pages (as defined above). It is recommended as a matter of good design that personal pages also be made accessible.

How can pages be made accessible?

New York State has adopted the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Guidelines: Page Authoring. The W3C outlines three levels of accessibility, Priorities 1 -3. All pages must conform to at least "Priority 1" (also referred to as "Level A") by December 31, 2000, regardless of the date that the page was created. Below are the resources needed to meet Priority One:

Techniques for Adobe Acrobat PDF files:
Files created by Acrobat can now be made accessible.

Validation:

Cynthia Says - will test a page at a time on the Web or multiple pages if the application is downloaded and installed.
A-Prompt Toolkit - a free download that will test and repair pages.
Lynx - Lynx is a text only browser that is on Rocky. If all page content is viewable (and makes sense) in Lynx, it will most likely pass accessibility requirements.

To use Lynx, access it as follows:
Sign in to Rocky as if checking e-mail. Instead of typing "pine" type "lynx" followed by the complete URL (including the http://) of the page that you wish to view and hit the enter key. Options for navigation are located at the bottom of the screen. To exit, hit "q" to quit.

Lynx Emulators that work via a Web browser are also available. Go to Lynx-Me or Lynx Viewer and follow the instructions provided.

Additional Information & Resources:

Sitepoint article on Section 508 Accessibility
Accessible Documents - From Maine Cite
10 Quick Tips to Make Accessbile Web Sites - From W3C
Universal Accessibility for NYS Web Sites FAQ
(MS Word 473K)
Accessibility and Web Design: Why Does It Matter? - Article and resources from the Language, Learning and Technology journal
Usable Web: Accessibility - Accessibility links from Jacob Nielsen
Accessible Web Page Design - Comprehensive, well-maintained list of accessibility resources
Accessibility and the Web - from About.com
Web AIM - Web Accessibility in Mind. Web AIM checklist (PDF file, opens in new window)
WebABLE - More disability-related web resources
Equal Access to Software and Information (EASI): Web Design Access Kit
HTML Tidy - Cleans up HTML, including problematic code generated by pre-2000 versions of FrontPage
Text Equivalent Information

Multimedia:

Because State policy mandates we provide captioning and/or text equivalents for at least 50 percent of our multimedia content and Federal standards requires all, below are SUNY Oswego guidelines for multimedia content*:

  • If a video has sound, it needs to be closed captioned
  • If a video does not have sound, it needs a video description (a file that can be read by a screen reader)
  • If it is an audio file, it neeeds a transcript (a file that can be read by a screen reader)