Applying accessibility standards

You are a content creator and at least some of the content you create has an audience beyond yourself. The content you create and share may vary, but you likely do some of the following: write (papers, assignments, letters, email, tweets, etc.), take and share photos and video (even if on your phone), and publish content on the web (social media, college website, personal blog, etc.).

It’s the right thing to do

We often don’t know the audiences of our content intimately, which means that there is a good chance that we may not be aware that an audience member is experiencing a permanent (e.g. hard of hearing) or temporary disability (e.g. a hand injury) or situational limitation (eg. in a noisy space, glare of sunlight). In the United States, about 1 in 5 people have a disability. It is also important that many disabilities are not visible, so even if you can see your audience you may not have any idea that someone has barriers (e.g. Fibromyalgia, ADHD, color blindness). According to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, accessibility is a human right.  Without access to the internet and information technologies, people with disabilities are denied access to information that is crucial to equal access to education, employment, and involvement in society.  Making your content accessible respects people with disabilities expands your audience and helps everyone take advantage of features that make accessing content more convenient. Put very simply, it’s just the right thing to do.

Legal and international standards

In 2012 the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 were established as the international standard by the International Organization for Standardization. In 2018, the United States adopted this as our national standard. Federal law in the United States covers accessibility in sections 504 (public sector) and 508 (government and higher education) of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (public and private sector).

Where to Begin

Making all of the content you have ever created accessible right now is likely not practical. Instead, we recommend focusing your attention on making all new content and content that you revise accessible.  Over time, more and more of your content will be accessible. Get started on creating accessible content by reviewing basic accessibility principles and then jump into our accessibility tutorials.