University of Wisconsin-Madison: A Promising Practice in Development, Articulation, and Support of a Web Accessibility Policy
The University of Wisconsin–Madison was one of the first universities to develop a web accessibility policy. Its development was an effort to make the web more accessible for people with vision, hearing, and other disabilities. The original policy, enacted in December of 2000, was based on the guidelines developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI™) of the World Wide Web Consortium. The standards were supported at a high administrative level, being disseminated and promoted by the Vice Chancellor for Legal and Executive Affairs and ADA Coordinator.
In November 2001, the policy was updated to reflect what was learned from implementing the first policy, to recognize rapidly changing technology, and to bring the campus policy in line with new standards that had been adopted by the federal government. Consistency with Section 508 standards allows campus web developers to benefit from the clear guidelines and extensive supporting materials developed in response to federal standards. The new policy was promulgated by the Vice Chancellor for Legal and Executive Affairs and ADA Coordinator, the Chief Information Officer, and the Director of the Division of Information Technology.
Local responsibility for adhering to the standards is mandated by the administration. A leadership team brings together a variety of perspectives and concerns from computing staff, faculty, administrators, and student services. This team works with the University community to establish feasible guidelines for updating legacy web pages, develop policy updates, and assure that ongoing training and support is provided to web developers campuswide.