Don’t think of digital accessibility as a project, but rather an ongoing process that ensures that users with disabilities can navigate, perceive, and interact with your content.
Step 1: Awareness
Web accessibility is the inclusive practice of designing websites that are usable by all people, including people with disabilities, without the need for adaptation. When websites are correctly designed, developed and edited, all users have equal access to information and functionality.
Become familiar with web accessibility principles and guidelines. The University uses the international standards of the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1, Level AA (WCAG 2.1, Level AA), which are best practices for public-facing websites. WCAG 2.1 guidelines are organized according to the four principles of accessibility which maintain that web content must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Each principle is ultimately divided into testable success criteria.
Incorporate accessibility from the start of your next web project, using guidelines that are most relevant to your role:
- Designing for Web Accessibility – Tips for user interface and visual design
- Writing for Web Accessibility – Tips for writing and presenting content
- Developing for Web Accessibility – Tips for markup and coding
Step 2: Assessment
Conduct an assessment of your website for conformance with WCAG 2.1 AA guidelines. Automated tools can evaluate some criteria and will perhaps identify 30% to 40% of errors on a site. The remaining issues can only be found by conducting manual tests and applying human judgment.
- Perform keyboard-only testing (some people can’t use a mouse)
- All content and functionality must be accessible using only the keyboard
- Keys used for navigation: Tab, Shift+Tab, arrow keys, space bar, Enter
- Assess your site using a screen reader
Try one of these do-it-yourself checklists to evaluate your website:
- WebAIM Quick Reference – Testing Web Content for Accessibility
- Easy Checks–A First Review of Web Accessibility from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
Decide whether to remediate, replace, or retire inaccessible content.
- Contact the UChicago Website Resource Center for valuable information on setting up a new website or updating an existing website. Resources are provided for website hosting, domain name requests, UChicago web standards, and technical support.
Step 3: Remediation
Tackle the most serious barriers and critical content first.
We recommend that you focus first on high priority issues:
- Direct feedback from visitors to your website: Always respond in a timely way to requests for access to your content.
- Impact for people with disabilities: Address issues that prevent users from perceiving important content or completing critical tasks.
- Prevalence of repeat issues: You may be able to fix issues that are prevalent throughout your site all at once by tweaking your content or updating a few lines of code.
- Ease and speed of repair: Achieve quick results by tackling issues that can be fixed with minimal effort.
Step 4: Iteration
After remediating your website, assess it again to verify that accessibility issues have been fixed. Repeat the cycle periodically to ensure that updated content continues to meet accessibility guidelines.
Still have questions? Contact the CDA to request a consultation.