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Resources

Web Access for All Tool Kit
K-State's tool kit to assist University web developers

Accessibility defined
What accessibility means and how it affects web sites

Legal requirements
Describes K-State's federal and state legal obligations

Guidelines and standards
Links to federal, state, W3C guidelines and policies

Tools
Links to tools that can assist in achieving accessibility

Training and online tutorials
Links to classes and online training

Resources
Information about accessible emerging technologies and web-delivered curriculum

Web content accessibility home

Web site accessibility

The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.

Tim Berners-Lee
Inventor of the World Wide Web

Prepared Fall 2001 by the
Web Site Accessibility Committee
Kansas State University

What does Web Site Accessibility mean?

Have you ever visited a web site which required a browser you do not use, contained text you could not read, or trapped you on a page you could not leave? These sites are considered inaccessible.

An accessible site is one that can be used and understood independent of specific physical and computer abilities. Accessible web design is universal web design, which means designing for the widest range of these abilities.

Web page visitors may be using adaptive technologies such as screen readers or text-based browsers, have their browser graphics turned off, or may not be able to use, or have access to, a mouse or keyboard.

Adopting a universal design ensures information will be accessible not only to people with disabilities but also to those using old, alternate, or emerging technologies.

Much of K-State's information and services are now available online. For this reason, it is increasingly important that the information and services be presented in ways that make them accessible to everyone, including persons with disabilities.

Inaccessible commercial sites lose some of their business; inaccessible informational sites lose some of their purpose.

Why is web site accessibility an issue now?

As a university, we are responsible to develop information resources that are accessible to those with disabilities. Since the web is such a new medium, accessibility standards and guidelines were not available when we began putting information online.

Now the federal and state governments endorse accessibility guidelines and standards. K-State is required by law to provide access to its programs, services, and activities to all qualified individuals with disabilities.

On June 25, 2001, the federal web accessibility standards took affect. The State of Kansas Web Accessibility Requirements indicate that all new official web sites must be accessible. The deadline is March 31, 2002, for existing official web sites.

Aren't accessible web sites bland?

Not necessarily. The guidelines do not discourage the use of visual tools such as images and video. Rather they explain how to make multimedia content more accessible to a wider audience.

Good HTML coding and behind-the-scenes descriptions are the keys. Examples of accessible sites with visual qualities are:

Center for Assistive Technology
http://www.assistivetech.net/

State of Kansas
http://www.accesskansas.org/

Are there other benefits?

Search engines work in similar ways to screen readers. Well-structured sites with text descriptions of web page elements increase the search engines' ability to find and accurately describe its results to the user.

Usability studies show that current users bypass glitz in favor of finding solid information. Many also want quick access to the Internet while away from their homes and offices. Alternatives to potentially cumbersome elements may increase the value of a visit.

In the past, the major web browsers and web authoring tools have largely ignored any attempts at standardization, forcing web authors and users to adapt to the quirks of a particular technology. The federal government now encourages the companies that create the technologies to follow the accessibility guidelines.

While it's a challenge to renovate existing sites, improving standards now will make future web development much easier with tools such as cascading style sheets.

Which web sites do these standards apply to?

In accordance with State of Kansas Web Accessibility Requirements, web authors should make their new official sites accessible and should modify for accessibility their current official sites.

University official sites include all college, departmental, and administrative unit web pages.

Although some sites may not technically be required to meet the guidelines, it is recommended that all sites are designed to be universally accessible.

Compliance with the guidelines will lessen the need to provide accommodations for individual students, faculty, or members of the public in the future.

Developing universally accessible sites reduces the reliance on specific browsers and other computer technology. Web developers can not be certain that their audience has a specific browser or type of computer hardware or software.

With the use of emerging technology as well as older technology, it has become more important to design web sites in a universal manner.

Types of sites considered official:
  • administrative office web sites
  • college web sites
  • department/unit web sites
Types of sites not considered official:
  • personal web pages
  • campus organization web sites
  • online courses
  • course instruction pages
  • distance education courses

For additional resources, tools, and training opportunities, visit:

K-State's Web Accessibility Site
http://www.k-state.edu/tools/access/

iTAC
http://main.itac.ksu.edu/

Research & Extension's WebBuilder Site
http://www.oznet.k-state.edu/WebBuilder/

For assistance, contact:
iTAC
509 Hale Library
itac@k-state.edu
532-4918