Washington State University recently announced planned updates to its web accessibility policy (Executive Policy 7) and web accessibility procedures, to be put into effect on June 30.
For the full announcements, refer to:
This document answers common questions about these policies and procedures for individuals and teams managing WSU websites.
The purpose of web accessibility is to remove barriers from users with disabilities (vision, hearing, cognitive, mobility, and similar) attempting to access information on websites, documents in digital formats, and other electronic communication mediums.
WSU is committed to creating an accessible environment for students, employees, faculty, and staff. WSU is implementing additional accessibility policies, procedures, and resources to continue to best serve our community and to meet state and federal requirements.
How Does Accessibility Impact My Website?
Your website’s code has various available parameters that assistive technologies (such as screen readers) can use to convey the information to users with disabilities. WSU’s accessibility standards and requirements will ensure that these accessibility code parameters are being utilized according to international standards1.
Because the accessibility parameters are not always configured in the code by default when content is added to websites, some or all of the following changes to your website code and/or content may be required to ensure full compliance to WSU’s accessibility policies and procedures:
- Alternative text (describing the images) will need to be added to any images that do not already have it
- Headings within the content will need to follow a hierarchical structure
- Links within the content may require additional descriptions
- Tables within the content may require additional structural information
- Website colors may need to be adjusted to ensure there is sufficient contrast between text and background(s)
- Videos and audio files will need to have closed captioning or transcripts available
- All documents provided for download from WSU websites must also meet accessibility requirements
- Other changes (refer to: Accessibility Checklist )
The website content changes required for accessibility compliance may require significant time and/or resources.
Each individual and/or team managing WSU website content will be responsible for ensuring these changes for accessibility compliance are made on their own websites.
CAHNRS Communications’ Web Team can support with these content changes in part or whole on your behalf. For more information, see Can I Get Assistance In Fixing Accessibility Issues With My Website? below.
How Will I Know If Changes To My Website Are Required for Accessibility Compliance?
WSU’s Central Web Communication team is actively developing tools that will automatically scan all WSU websites and report any accessibility compliance issues.
The current in-development version of the Central Web Communication team’s scanning tool can be previewed here: Accessibility Dashboard
What If I’m Not Sure How To Fix Accessibility Issues With My Website?
As part of the accessibility policies and procedures development, WSU will provide training and documentation to guide individuals and teams managing WSU websites in accessibility compliance. This training is currently expected to begin no later than September 1, 2017.
The currently available accessibility documentation can be accessed here: Accessibility Guides/
In addition, the CAHNRS Communications’ Web Team ( email@example.com ) will be available to answer questions and provide supplemental guidance on accessibility compliance for CAHNRS and Extension website projects.
Can I Get Assistance In Fixing Accessibility Issues With My Website?
CAHNRS Communications’ Web Team can make the needed content updates for policy compliance on your behalf at an affordable hourly rate (email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free estimate).
What Will Happen To Websites That Do Not Meet The Accessibility Requirements?
Official communication about this has not yet been received from WSU.
Currently, it is expected that non-accessible website content will be archived (removed from public-facing websites display) if it has not been resolved within the timelines specified by WSU’s accessibility policies and procedures.
What about non-WSU content?
If you are linking to non-WSU webpages, you are not responsible for the accessibility of the linked website.
If you are using non-WSU’s content on your WSU webpage, such as embedding a non-WSU video or uploading a non-WSU document to your website, you are responsible for the content and it must comply with accessibility requirements.
Can I Start Making My Site Accessible Now?
Yes. As noted previously, all content (including documents) added to your website after June 30th, 2017 must be accessible.
In addition—provided you feel comfortable updating your site with the available accessibility guidelines and resources or if you are using the CAHNRS Communications’ Web Team’s content services to make the changes—you can begin updating older content to ensure accessibility compliance. If you don’t feel comfortable with either of these options, it is recommended that you wait until receiving the official training from WSU.
CAHNRS Communications Web Team”
Web Services Manager
Or, email email@example.com for:
- Answering your CAHNRS & Extension website-specific questions about implementing the new accessibility policy
- Providing technical support and troubleshooting for any issues that you encounter while updating your content to the new policy
- Free estimates for helping update your website content to ensure website accessibility
It is currently anticipated that WSU will adopt the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA and the Web Accessibility Initiative Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite (WAI-ARA) 1.0 as its standards.