Strathclyde Web Accessibility

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The University does not at this time have an official policy on web accessibility. The purpose of these resources is to support and encourage good practice.

So, what level of accessibility should we be aiming for?
WAI WCAG1.0 state that Priority 1 Checkpoints must be satisfied otherwise some groups of people will be unable to access information on a site. Therefore, many organisational web policies state that the website must meet all Priority 1 checkpoints and so achieve Level A conformance. The policy for UK government websites has recently been revised to include Priority 2 checkpoints and so ensure that their sites achieve Level AA conformance.

Do other guidelines exist?
The WCAG1.0 guidelines are the definitive guidelines on web accessibility. They are not only referenced by all websites dedicated to web accessibility but are incorporated into all web accessibility policies. What does vary within policy 'guidelines' is the stipulated level of accessibility and the associated checkpoints which are deemed core to achieving these target levels.

We felt that in addition to recommending WCAG1.0 Priority 1 checkpoints as a minimum level of accessibility we should attempt to also identify an optimal level of accessibility. Looking at the WCAG guidelines we could simply say that satisfying Priority 2 checkpoints would be a level of optimal accessibility. To identify additional checkpoints, we considered the following two standards:

RNIB See IT Right accessibility websites
The See it Right logo is issued to sites which RNIB have audited and which achieve a good standard of accessibility. Full details of the audit process are available at See it Right Accessible Website Audits. The See it Right checkpoints include all WCAG Priority 1 and particular Priority 2 and 3. Additional checkpoints are addressed within their audit recommendations."

Section 508 standard
In 1986 in the US, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was amended to include Section 508 with the requirement, by law, that the Federal Government provide accessible technology to employees and to the public. No guidance was provided as, at this time, the WCAG guidelines did not exist. In 1998 Section 508 was amended to include a set of standards for accessible electronic and information technology which include web-based intranet and internet information and applications (1194.22 (a) to (p)), commonly referred to as Section 508. If any standard between (a) to (p) is not met then the site is deemed noncompliant with Section 508.

We considered it logical that an optimal accessibility level would be to satisfy all Priority 1 checkpoints AND any Priority 2 or 3 checkpoints associated with RNIB See IT Right or Section 508. For details of each checkpoint and the rationale behind these mappings see:

In addition to providing a listing of the recommended checkpoints we intend to provide related examples of our disabled students' experiences of inaccessibility. Having an insight of the disabled student's experience and perspective will hopefully translate what may have been an abstract checkpoint into a meaningful target. No details of actual web pages will be made on this site, rather we will highlight the accessibility barriers, their impact and fixes. Actual information related to inaccessible sites would be conveyed to the site designer with the offer of some support.

Useful references:

University of Aberdeen - Accessibility of Online Learning Materials. This well-designed site has a variation on the WAI Quick Tips as its home page with hyperlinks leading to detailed explanatory pages. This site is particularly useful to those who are new to the WAI guidelines and who want easy-to-follow examples.

RNIB Accessibility Centre. "The Web access centre has been developed by the Web access team at the RNIB with the support of Standard Life in response to feedback from web designers and managers. It aims to provide everyone involved in the design and build of websites with the tools and resources needed to plan, build and test accessible websites."

TechDis Seven Precepts of Accessibility. "The seven precepts cover a range of usability and accessibility issues and each is accompanied by a short description. Each Precept then links to detailed information about the concepts and information on how to apply them to your site." This is an excellent resource covering 7 precepts:

  1. Navigation and page layout
  2. Visual Presentation and customisation
  3. Text descriptions for images
  4. Accessible mark-up for forms, lists, scripts and tables
  5. Use and presentation of written language
  6. Accessible issue; s for other media types
  7. Help, searches, errors and documentation

Vischeck, a colour-blindness image check is available online. Vischeck simulates colour-blind vision and provides access to a Daltonize algorithm which corrects images for colour-blind viewers.

Section 508, Software Applications and Operating Systems (1194.21). These standards provide guidance for software developers. If you are creating any electronic learning materials these standards will be useful in raising awareness of accessibility measures to be achieved.

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