Ohio State University: A Promising Practice in Web Accessibility Support

A growing number of postsecondary institutions are developing policies and implementing support solutions for assuring that their web content is accessible to people with disabilities. One of these institutions is Ohio State University, whose Web Accessibility Policy and Minimum Web Accessibility Standards went into effect on June 30, 2004. Ohio State is particularly noteworthy in that they have a strong tradition of providing web accessibility support services to their faculty, staff, and teaching assistants.

What are examples of accessible information and communication technology in education?

Computers, multimedia, software, electronic communication, the web, and other information technologies are common in educational institutions today. The ability to access and use this technology has become essential to full participation of students in academic and other school-related activities. For most educational institutions, accessibility is commonly addressed as an afterthought and on an individual basis, often making it difficult, time-consuming, and costly to provide adequate access.

What is accessible electronic and information technology?

Accessible electronic and information technology is technology that can be used by people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. It incorporates the principles of universal design. Each user is able to interact with the technology in ways that work best for them. Accessible technology is either directly accessible—in other words, it is usable without assistive technology—or it is compatible with standard assistive technology.

How do we make electronic resources accessible in our school library?

Libraries play a critical role in education, and increasingly this role is being fulfilled with information technology. Books, manuscripts, journals, course materials, research databases, and catalogs are increasingly available electronically. Libraries often house computer labs and other information technology facilities, and library staff are often signficantly involved in the deployment of educational entities' information technology.

What web accessibility evaluation and repair tools are available?

There are a growing number of tools that allow web developers to evaluate the accessibility of their web pages and sites. Many tools also prompt the developer to make specific repairs. Some tools automatically follow links to evaluate multiple pages within a site or within an entire domain. The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI™) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C®) maintains an extensive list of such tools in their document Complete List of Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools.

What standards exist for developing and purchasing accessible video and multimedia products?

The U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board), as mandated by the 1998 Section 508 amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, developed standards for electronic and information technology developed, maintained, procured, or used by the federal government and covered state entities. These standards became effective in 2001. Some organizations not required to comply with 508 have adopted and used these standards voluntarily.

What standards exist for developing and purchasing accessible software?

When making software procurement decisions, educational entities need to look critically at which products in a given software category will best serve the needs of all students, without excluding some on the basis of disability. To determine whether a software application is accessible, the application should be evaluated according to a set of guidelines or standards that defines software accessibility.

What is Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)?

Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI™) is one of four domains of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C®). W3C was created in 1994 to develop common protocols that promote the evolution of the World Wide Web and ensure its interoperability. The HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) specifications are two of the most familiar outcomes of W3C's work. W3C has more than five hundred member organizations worldwide. Its domains are Architecture, User Interface, Technology and Society, and WAI, which works across the other three domains.