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Oklahoma State University

Accessibility Guidelines

Imagine having a disability that limits your sight, hearing, or mobility. The Internet and computers have opened up a whole new world to the millions of people in this situation. Computers can read aloud text that appears on a screen. They provide a way for people with hearing and speech impairments to communicate easily. And computers understand and implement voice commands for individuals with limited mobility.

Accessible web pages have been constructed to be useable by anyone, even if they are using assistive technology to access the web page. Examples of assisted technology are screen readers, screen magnifiers, voice recognition software, alternative keyboards, and braille displays.

Why Accessible?

OSU Policy: It is the policy of Oklahoma State University to ensure that University Web pages will be usable by people with disabilities.

Federal Regulations: The Americans With Disabilities Act and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires public institutions, such as universities to have accessible web sites. It is interpreted to apply to the Internet as well as physical spaces.

It is Easy To Do

Making a web site accessible is not difficult. We will help with training and support. To make web pages accessible, special "tags" are placed within the HTML code, enabling alternative access to information that would otherwise be purely visual or auditory. Most web authoring software tools make the process of including accessibility tags easy, even for those who know little or no HTML.

It is very simple to re-examine a web site and include many elements that will immediately make the site more accessible. Often this does not require changing the visual appearance or design of the site. In fact, visual information (images, movies, animations) are useful to many people who are visual learners. Providing equivalent descriptions for visual elements is an easy way to open the information to even more users and learners.

Images (including movies and animations), text, tables, forms, and navigation controls can all pose problems for people using assistive technologies such as screen readers. However, there are simple solutions to each of these categories that can be implemented at the start of a web design project or retrofitted into an existing web site.

It is The Right Thing to Do

Making your web site work for everyone can make a huge difference to users with disabilities. An estimated 20 percent of the population in the United States (40.8 million individuals) has a disability and 10 percent (27.3 million individuals) has a severe disability.

There are five types of disabilities that affect web usage. These are:

  • Blind/Low Vision
  • Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • Mobility Impairments
  • Cognitive Impairments
  • Seizure Disorders

It Works for Everyone

Accessible web sites work well for everyone regardless of the type of software or computer they use.

  • No Graphic Display: An accessible web site design will work even if graphics are turned off or are not displayed in your viewer's browser.
  • Using less than 'State of the Art' Technology: An accessible web site will work well for users viewing your site with less than state of the art computer equipment, software, and plug-ins.
  • Using 'State of the Art' Technology: Many new popular technologies such as web-phones and Palm Pilots typically view the internet with a text-only display. Web sites that don't display in text-only format would be inaccessible to this emerging technology.

Making Your Website Accessible

  • Avoid misleading use of structural elements on pages. Use a heading tag for all headings, use a list structure for listed items, use a blockquote for quoted material.
  • Do not use display fonts that cannot be resized such as pixels, points, or picas. Acceptable variable font size values includes ems, percentage, named values xx-small to xx-large, and exs.
  • Avoid using tables for page layout.
  • Use variable column and page widths.

Quick Accessibility Guide:

  • Alt Tags - All graphics within a website must contain an 'alt tag' for accessibility. Alt tags should be concise but descriptive enough for the user to gain an accurate idea of what the image portrays.
  • Image Maps - All image maps must have alt tags for hotspots and a properly set tab index.
  • Hyperlink Titles - Each hyperlink title is meaningful and adequately describes the link's destination.
  • Tables - Avoid the use of tables except where they are necessary to display data in a table format.
  • Frames - Avoid using frames if possible. If you use frames, to be accessible, each frame must be given a title that helps the user understand the frame's purpose, and equivalent no frames information must be provided.
  • Charts & Graphs - The content and meaning of a chart or graph must be described in text to make it accessible to all users.
  • Forms - Form elements must be tagged with the label attribute. Contact information must be provided on each page with a form.
  • Skip Navigation - Provide a way to skip over navigational menus or other lengthy lists of links.
  • Cascading Style Sheets - When Cascading Style Sheets are used, the web page must make sense when the style sheets are turned off.
  • Scripts, Events, & Plug-Ins/PDF - Provide contact information on each page with a script, applet, or plug-in so that users can ask questions or request the information in an alternative format.