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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

Accessibility Memorandum

July 16, 2001

MEMORANDUM

TO: President, Provost, Vice Provosts, Vice Presidents, Deans, Department/Unit Heads

FROM: Jane Rowlett, Director of Unclassified Affairs and University Compliance/University ADA Coordinator

RE: Accessible Web Design of Official Web Sites

Since much of K-State's information and services are now available online it is increasingly important that the information and services be presented in ways that makes them accessible to everyone, including persons with disabilities. The purpose of the letter is to:

  • inform you of K-State's legal responsibilities relative to web site accessibility,
  • to provide a definition of accessible web sites
  • to inform you of resources available to assist you and those who develop and maintain your official web site(s), and
  • to remind you that final date for complete compliance is March 31, 2002.

Legal Responsibilities

K-State is required by Federal law (the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973) to provide access to its programs and services to all qualified individuals. These laws prevent K-State from building buildings with no wheelchair access, and similarly, they prevent K-State from building web sites that deny access to persons who access the web through screen readers, can not hear audio content, or are unable to use a mouse.

A U.S. Department of Justice Policy Ruling on September 9, 1996 confirmed that the ADA applies to Internet Web Pages. More recently, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 requires that Federal agencies ensure the accessibility of their electronic and information technology, including web-based intranet and internet information and applications.  Although Section 508 applies specifically to Federal agencies, another law (the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, or "AT Act") requires that any State receiving a grant under this act (i.e., all states) must assure that it (the State), or any recipient of State funds, will comply with Section 508 standards. There is still some debate as to the intended relationship between the AT Act and Section 508, and the Department of Education has pledged to work with States to address this.

In addition, the State of Kansas has issued Web Accessibility Requirements and Implementation Guidelines. These documents provide a time frame for initial implementation and a list of specific guidelines for compliance. All new web sites must be accessible. For existing web sites, the final date for complete compliance is March 31, 2002.

What is an Accessible Web Site?

The concept of designing an accessible web site means designing for the widest range of people's abilities. Not all web page visitors are using the standard graphical browsers. They 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. Some users also have physical or cognitive disabilities that impact their use of a Web page. Eventually we may be using cell phones or audio devices from our cars to access the web.In keeping with this commitment to provide accessible information and services the following are some questions to ask about your web page:

  • How does your page look on different browsers? (e.g., Internet Explorer,Netscape)
  • How does your page look to users with different screen resolutions (e.g., 640 x 480, 800 x 600, 1024 x 768)
  • How does your page look to individuals who are using portable computing devices?
  • How does your page look to individuals who are accessing the web via telephone?
  • How does your page look to blind individuals who are accessing the web using a screen reader?
  • How does your page look to individuals who are deaf? Is the audio content closed-captioned or transcribed?

Guidelines, Standards and Other Resources

There are currently two primary sets of guidelines/standards for developing accessible web content. The first is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 1.0), developed by the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Access Initiative (WAI); the second is the Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards developed by The Access Board as required by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, described above. The Access Board drew heavily upon the WCAG 1.0 in creating its standards.However, the two sets are not identical. The Access Board worked carefully to use language that is more consistent with enforceable regulatory language. Whether or not state universities are determined to be directly covered by Section 508, its published standards are likely to inform other laws (e.g., the Americans with Disabilities Act) and define "web accessibility" in court.Also included in this section is the State of Kansas Web Content Guidelines.

The following is a complete listing of the Section 508 standards covering web-based intranet and internet information and applications. For each item, the corresponding WCAG 1.0 checkpoint is provided. All WCAG 1.0 checkpoints are Priority 1 checkpoints (i.e., highest priority on a 3 point scale; violating them means your page will be totally inaccessible to one or more groups). Note that the last five items have no directly corresponding WCAG equivalent.

(a A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided (e.g., via "alt", "longdesc", or in element content).(WCAG 1.0 checkpoint 1.1 - Priority 1)

(b) Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized with the presentation.(WCAG 1.0 checkpoint 1.4 - Priority 1)

(c) Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup.(WCAG 1.0 checkpoint 2.1 - Priority 1)

(d) Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet. (WCAG 1.0 checkpoint 6.1 - Priority 1)

(e) Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region of a server-side image map. (WCAG 1.0 checkpoint 1.2 - Priority 1)

(f) Client-side image maps shall be provided instead of server-side image maps except where the regions cannot be defined with an available geometric shape. (WCAG 1.0 checkpoint 9.1 - Priority 1)

(g) Row and column headers shall be identified for data tables.(WCAG 1.0 checkpoint 5.1 - Priority 1)

(h) Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers. (WCAG 1.0 checkpoint 5.2 - Priority 1)

(i) Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation.(WCAG 1.0 checkpoint 12.1 - Priority 1)

(j) Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz. (WCAG 1.0 checkpoint 7.1 - Priority 1)

(k) A text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be provided to make a web site comply with the provisions of this part, when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way. The content of the text-only page shall be updated whenever the primary page changes.(WCAG 1.0 checkpoint 11.4 - Priority 1)

(l) When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology. (No directly corresponding WCAG 1.0 checkpoint)

(m) When a web page requires that an applet, plug-in or other application be present on the client system to interpret page content, the page must provide a link to a plug-in or applet that complies with '1194.21(a) through (l).(No directly corresponding WCAG 1.0 checkpoint)

(n) When electronic forms are designed to be completed on-line, the form shall allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues. (No directly corresponding WCAG 1.0 checkpoint)

(o) A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links.(No directly corresponding WCAG 1.0 checkpoint)

(p) When a timed response is required, the user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to indicate more time is required.(No directly corresponding WCAG 1.0 checkpoint)

The full text of Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards is available at The Access Board's web site: http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/508standards.htm

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 1.0) and many other valuable resources on this topic are available from the WAI web site: http://www.w3.org/wai/

The State of Kansas Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Implementation Guidance are at: http://da.state.ks.us/itec/WASGuidance102600.htm) and Guidelines by Priority http://da.state.ks.us/itec/WASPriorities102600.htm

Tools for measuring accessibility

The first web accessibility assessment tool, named Bobby, was developed by the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), and is available through a web interface or as downloadable software. Bobby will check your web page(s) for accessibility, and provide a detailed report showing specific areas needing improvement, including HTML code. The current version of Bobby is based upon WCAG 1.0, so it is not entirely compatible with the Section 508 standards.

http://www.cast.org/

WAVE (Web Accessibility Versatile Evaluator), is a web-based application developed at The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University. It's similar to Bobby, but its output focuses on the GUI web page, rather than on the HTML code, so it may be easier for some content developers to use. It also identifies the reading order of all the elements on the page, which Bobby does not. One drawback is that it only works with single pages, and doesn't yet have the ability to spider entire sites.

http://www.temple.edu/inst_disabilities/piat/wave/

A-Prompt was collaboratively developed by the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre (ATRC) at the University of Toronto and the TRACE Center at the University of Wisconsin. It's currently available in beta, and the A-Prompt folks are working with developers to incorporate the tool into future releases of major web editor and courseware products. Its distinguishing feature is its accessibility wizard, which prompts developers with specific recommended fixes.

http://aprompt.snow.utoronto.ca/

SSB Technologies has developed a set of three web accessibility tools: Insight, Infocus, and Clarity. Insight is a web accessibility assessment tool. Infocus, like A-Prompt, provides an interface through which the web developer can correct accessibility problems. Clarity generates reports on the accessibility of an entire web site, including summary statistics. Unlike the other three products described above, these are commercial products, and many consider them to be highly priced.

http://www.ssbtechnologies.com/

A full list of tools can also be accessed at the W3C's Website at: http://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/existingtools.html

PLEASE NOTE: Using Bobby or any of the other tools does not ensure that the federal or state guidelines are met.

On-line Tutorials

There are several online tutorials that provide information and examples regarding accessible web development. Here are a few that have been found to be particularly helpful:

Web Accessibility Initiative (the official Tutorial that accompanies the guidelines) http://www.w3.org/WAI/wcag-curric/

Web Site Accessibility (Land Grant Training Alliance) http://www.lgta.org/accessibility/index.html

Time Frame for Compliance

All new web sites must be accessible. For existing web sites, the final date for complete compliance is March 31, 2002. The State of Kansas has issued Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (http://da.state.ks.us/itec/WASPriorities102600.htm) that provides a time frame for implementation.

For more information and a complete listing of resources and information, see the K-State website at: http://www.k-state.edu/tools/access/ For questions about K-State's compliance with state and federal laws, contact me, Jane Rowlett, Director of Unclassified Affairs and University Compliance, by phone at 532-4392 or by e-mail at jrowlet@k-state.edu. For technical advice contact Janelle Corkill, Web Specialist, Computing and Network Services, by phone at 532-4393 or by e-mail at janelle@k-state.edu.