Web accessibility is the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent access to websites by people of diverse abilities. UT Dallas is committed to providing accessibility of its website.
The University must comply with the Texas Administrative Code 206.70 Accessibility standard; all web pages containing official University information that are built, updated or revised must comply with it. TAC 206.70 establishes only a minimum standard for accessibility; developers, designers and content editors at UT Dallas are encouraged to go beyond the minimum whenever possible.
University Web Services ensures the home and gateway pages meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA standards and promotes best practices in accessibility to UT Dallas web developers. Christy Glaze serves as the university’s web accessibility coordinator. Christy monitors the University’s compliance with state policy and trains web publishers and developers how to make web pages accessible. To contact the web accessibility coordinator, send an email to [email protected]las.edu or call 972-883-4995.
What makes a webpage accessible?
A good foundation for understanding web accessibility is provided by the World Wide Web Consortium, which outlines four principles of accessibility in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. These principles are:
- “Perceivable: Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.” For example, images that convey information must have a text alternative that can be read allowed by a screen reader.
- “Operable: User interface components and navigation must be operable.” Interfaces must be usable by a variety of input and navigation methods. For example, menus should be navigable by keyboards and other types of input devices.
- “Understandable: Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.” Ask yourself, will visitors to this webpage understand any jargon used? Will the site structure make sense to visitors? Will interactive features, such as forms or pop-ups, be intuitive? Think about the mindset and abilities of the likely visitors to a webpage.
- “Robust: Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.” Be sure to test web pages using a variety of devices and browsers, as well as with different input methods (such as keyboard navigation) and interpretation methods (such as screen reader audio output).
Some minimum guidelines for UTD webpages
- Include text alternatives for images, icons and graphics that are intended to convey information.
- Use headings that are descriptive. Heading tags should be used in hierarchical order. Never use heading tags simply for decorative styling.
- Use link text that is descriptive. Avoid vague link text such as “click here.”
- Text (including headlines and links) should have a high contrast ratio compared to its background — at least 4.5:1 for body text and 3:1 for headings.
- Audio and video content should have text alternatives, such as captioning.
- Ensure that pages can be navigated by keyboard only. All pages must include a visual focus that appears when using keyboard navigation.
- Choose words that are clear, concise and easy to understand. Avoid jargon on pages that serve a broad audience.
- Forms and other interactive content must be accessible at assistive technologies (AT). Include clearly-written, AT-accessible labels and instructions, and do not set forms to automatically time out or reset.
Pre-recorded videos require accurate closed captions.
- Captions should identify the speaker or speakers.
- Auto-generated captions (such as what is provided by YouTube) can be a good starting place but are not sufficient. Auto-generated captions should be carefully proof-read and edited for accuracy, and punctuation and speaker identification should be added.
- Closed captions are still required even if a video has open captions (captions that are embedded in the video itself and cannot be turned off).
- If a video includes visuals, such as charts or graphs, these should be described in an accessible text format. Consider making available a separate transcript file that includes description of visuals, actions that happen in the video and audio cues such as music or sound effects.
Live video requires live captioning.
- Microsoft Teams provides an option for live captions, but it won’t be 100% accurate. If the meeting is recorded, closed captions will need to be added afterward before the recording is shared. This won’t describe visuals that are on screen, so consider having the speaker describe visuals during a meeting.
- There are paid services that can provide live captioning.
- Do not set videos or audio to auto play.
- Video players must be accessible; a user who doesn’t use a mouse must be able to control the player using their keyboard.
Resources related to captioning:
- Siteimprove tutorial on accessible video
- University of Washington has some good guidelines with info also about adding captions, to Zoom, Facebook, etc.
- WCAG 2.1 standards for time-based media
Check the accessibility of your pages
University Web Services can provide web managers access to the tool Siteimprove, which tracks issues related to accessibility as well as SEO and quality. Email Christy Glaze to request access and training.
Resources for Web Accessibility
- Web Accessibility PowerPoint by Dawn Berglund
- WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind)
- The A11y Project
- WAI-ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications)
- Access University training from Level Access – To enroll, send your first name, last name and State of Texas email address to UT System’s Level Access contact, [email protected]. Within 3 business days you will receive a confirmation email stating your account has been created and be given log in instructions. If you don’t receive that info within 3 business days, please contact [email protected]