Purdue University: A Promising Practice in Building Campus-wide Support for Web Accessibility
Administrators at Purdue University look for ways to raise awareness of web accessibility issues and to educate employees on how to create websites that are accessible to individuals with a broad range of disabilities. They have focused efforts through a campus-wide Web Accessibility Committee (WAC). WAC members represent both academic and administrative units across campus. Most are web developers and all are strong supporters of accessible web design. WAC members have:
- drafted the campus Web Accessibility Policy.
- created and maintained a Web site of web accessibility information and resources.
- developed and delivered Accessible Web Design training sessions.
Purdue's Web Accessibility Policy, sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Ethics and Compliance, took effect on March 15, 2010. The policy establishes minimum standards for the accessibility of Web-based information and services. It is based on the Section 508 standards, which were developed for U.S. federal agencies.
Once the policy was in place, the WAC received many requests for training, in particular on how to make PDF documents and forms more accessible. With support from an AccessComputing minigrant, they held a series of workshops that used a train-the-trainer model to empower individuals across campus to improve accessibility and share their expertise with others. The first day of training was provided specifically for WAC members and additional invited participants. Each person agreed to assist with subsequent trainings, and to be a resource in her/his academic department or administrative unit.
Improving awareness and implementation of accessible web design is challenging. However, Purdue University's work to establish and empower a campus-wide community through which web accessibility can be promoted and supported is a promising practice that can be replicated by other institutions.
Last update or review: January 23, 2013