Accessibility

Accessibility

The standard

The Federal Government's Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy has mandated that University sites meet World Wide Web Consortium's WCAG 2.0 to AA level by December 2014.

Care should be taken to test and validate your new web site or application before launching.

The benefits of web accessibility are:

  1. ability of people with a disability to benefit from your information or service
  2. compliance with laws and government guidelines
  3. improved search engine rankings
  4. a better experience for everyone

Preparing accessible content

Approach

A helpful habit to adopt is to apply existing styles e.g. headings to your document rather than changing text size, fonts and colours individually. Most programs such as word processors and web editors work with styles.

Obtaining a template that already has the right styles and has been prepared or enhanced by a colleague who is trained in accessibility, can save a lot of time and produce quality results.

Media

Photos, videos, charts, audio and flash are inaccessible when they are first created. Plan time to address this (instead of avoiding this type of media). Video and audio require transcripts for example.

Here is guidance about making digital media accessible.

Web pages

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. If content is important, it should be in HTML. Avoid PDFs whenever possible. However if PDFs are unavoidable on your site, then make sure they're tagged - and even then, it's good to have a text alternative as well.
  2. If an image serves a purpose on your site, you need alt text to describe its purpose. For example, if an infographic shows that 2 out of 10 bank loans are rejected, then the alt text needs to say this.
  3. If an image is purely decorative then you need to make sure it doesn't have title text PLUS you need to have alt="" within the image tag. This will ensure assistive technology ignores it.
  4. You can't give physical directions to where content is on a screen - ie avoid saying "click on the icon in the left-hand corner" - since this means little to those using a screen reader
  5. Don't refer to objects by their shape (ie "click on the rectangular icon")
  6. Don't rely on colour for navigation or to give meaning
  7. Use left, center and right alignment for layout, instead of  tables. However, if you have to use tables, make sure the content makes sense if read sequentially from left to right toward the bottom - because that's how assistive technology (AT) will read it.
  8. If you use a table to present data then you need to use TH tags to identify column and row headings. If the table is purely to help with the layout, don't use TH tags - if you do, a screen reader (or other form of AT) will assume it's a data table
  9. Use CSS to control the layout, style and size of text to keep it visible to screen readers and achieve smooth resizing including on large displays and mobile devices, and for great readability for everyone. Avoid presenting text in the form of images.

Validating Accessibility

Content

When validating pages for WCAG 2.0 AA, the HTML_CodeSniffer is the easiest of  the tools available. This tool can quickly identify most issues your website may have. The tool is unable to work on secure pages. Developers should be aware that it can't check pages where the DOM has not been used to display content.

SiteBeam which reviews entire sites, may be available for use within the team. Ask Billy about how to access it.

Design

An important area for accessibility is maintaining colour contrast for users with poor eyesight or colour blindness. Designers can use the Colour Contrast Analyser from Vision Australia.

WebAIM has some other useful tips for designers http://webaim.org/resources/designers/

Web resources for meeting the WCAG 2.0 Accessibility standard

  1. Understanding WCAG 2.0
  2. Accessibility checklist
  3. How to meet WCAG 2.0
  4. Techniques for WCAG 2.0
  5. PDF Techniques for WCAG 2.0
  6. Vision Australia
  7. Australian Government Web Guide (Accessibility section)
  8. Practical tips for accessible content
  9. HTMLCodeSniffer Compliance checker
  10. AChecker accessibility checker
  11. Colour Contrast Analyser for webpages
  12. Macquarie University Accessibility information

This is an interim document while web accessibility tools, training and processes are agreed for a long-term strategy.

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