North Carolina State University: A Promising Practice on Web Accessibility Policy
A growing number of postsecondary educational entities are drafting web accessibility policies and guidelines. Typically these policies include a broad policy statement regarding the university's commitment to accessibility, followed by a declaration of how web accessibility is defined by the institution (usually institutions simply adopt the Section 508 web accessibility standards). Many policies additionally include a timeline by which accessibility must be attained, exemptions to the policy, and links to internal resources that are avaialable for support and training.
On March 3, 2006, the Executive Officers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) unanimously approved the NCSU Web Page Accessibility Regulation. This regulation includes many components that are consistent with other institutions' policies as described above, but is unique in that it includes an enforcement mechanism, clearly spelling out the procedure that must be followed for addressing web accessibility problems:
6.2 As the Office for Equal Opportunity becomes aware of accessibility problems relating to a particular Web page, it will contact the Information Technology Division. The Information Technology Division will notify the relevant NC State Web Developer(s). The Web Developer(s) must work with the Information Technology Division to either (1) correct the identified accessibility problems in a timely fashion, or (2) justify why their page(s) should be exempt as per Section 5.
6.3 If the NC State Web Developer fails to provide a response to the Information Technology Division's inquiry or does not address accessibility problems in a timely fashion, the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, in consultation with an accessibility compliance team if necessary, may direct the removal of non-exempt inaccessible Web content from service.
The NCSU regulation is also distinctive in the high level of support it attained campus-wide during the approval process. In order to become an official university regulation, the policy went through 18 drafts over four years, and secured buy-in from constituents throughout the university, including the Chancellor, Executive Committee, Deans Council, and Faculty Senate.