Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Federal law specifically excludes this as a rationale for not making sites accessible. All workplace infrastructure, including IT, must be accessible in preparation for future employees with disabilities so that they can be productive from the moment they begin their employment. In addition, websites and digital content created and distributed by educational institutions must be accessible for all potential users. This includes staff, faculty, students, alumni, donors, prospective students and anyone else who happens upon your content.
Yes. Documents on a Brandeis website or shared electronically must be accessible. This includes documents (Word, PDF), PowerPoint, forms, videos, audio, images and embedded material. Sign up for training to learn more about making various types of content accessible.
Accessible social media is hard to find, but not hard to create. It is up to content creators to incorporate accessibility best practices as much as possible within the tools they are using. Read about accessibility best practices for social media.
At Brandeis, we strive to meet the standards for web accessibility known as WCAG 2.0 AA. WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) is a set of web accessibility guidelines published by the W3C, which is the main standards organization for the World Wide Web. WCAG is the most widely adopted standard for creating accessible web content. Check out a simplified checklist.
Almost all challenges people with disabilities may run into when accessing your content can be mitigated to some extent by keeping accessibility in mind. Those with hearing impairments, for example, might not be able to listen to a podcast or audiocast, but if you provide transcripts and/or captioning they will still be able to follow along. Motor impairment can make the use of a computer mouse difficult or impossible, so users can navigate the Brandeis websites using a keyboard. Vision impairment might not mean complete blindness, so creating text elements that can be enlarged will help your low-vision users.
There are several audiences needing accessibility considerations, with different requirements. However, many of the things we do to help with these considerations actually serve more than just the intended audience. Accessible websites have been found to be more searchable, which is great for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) meaning your site is more likely to be found by those using search engines. Alternative modes of input also help learning; students can watch videos and read along with the captions. Transcripts also make great study guides for finals. Accessibility can benefit everyone.
Users with severe visual impairment may rely on a screen reader to access websites. A screen reader is a software program that takes the on-screen text and reads it out loud to the user. Visual cues, such as photographs, graphics, or table headers, may be unperceivable to this audience unless additional information is added (text alternatives for images “alt text” and other visual content and the specification of key landmarks, e.g., headings and lists, within a document). Voiceover for Apple is the screen reader primarily used on this campus.
In most cases, screen readers speak all page elements in the same order as they appear on the page, left to right and top to bottom. Screen readers also have a number of shortcuts available to help the user navigate through content more quickly and skip to the information the user is looking for. This is possible thanks to information about the page including links, menus, headings and image descriptions provided by programmers and content authors. You can try to navigate your pages with a screen reader yourself to see what potential obstacles users could face. If you have a MAC, you can turn your built-in screen reader VoiceOver on or off by pressing command+F5. Try out a screen reader simulator.
Low vision refers to individuals who have sufficient sight to use a visual browser, but who may need to enlarge text or use special high-contrast font and color settings in order to access online information. This includes those who have cataracts or who experience colorblindness.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 1 billion people worldwide have some form of disability. Online access is sometimes even more critical for people with disabilities than for members of the general population, who may have an easier time accessing conventional sources of information. Learn more about the diversity of people and abilities.
The cost associated with making content accessible is a concern to all departments on campus. The standard university web templates themselves are accessible, however, web editors must ensure any content (images, audio, video, documents, etc.) added or embedded on the website is also accessible. If accessibility principles are incorporated during the initial content development phases, the cost increase is generally minimal.
Yes. A student with a disability can access support and accommodations through Student Accessibility Support (SAS).
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