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35+ Usability Resources for Web Designers

April 8, 2010 in Accessibility

What a great find by one of our awesome board members, Kelsey Ruger. We agree with DESIGNM.AG when they say:

“Usability should be a priority for every website.
Without usability, even the most beautiful design will be ineffective.”

Make sure to read the full article and, if you’d like to learn more about usability, consider joining us for AccessU 2010 during which we will be hosting a two-day usability track on this important topic alone.

What you need to know to advocate for students with disabilities

March 2, 2010 in Accessibility, Accessibility in Education, Accessibility Standards

What you need to know to advocate for students with disabilities and get them access to Accessible Instructional Materials. Read the rest of this entry →

The Chafee Amendment

March 2, 2010 in Accessibility in Education, Accessibility Standards, Policies

The following is a copy of the 1996 Chafee Amendment to the Copyright Law. Read the rest of this entry →

Alphabet Firehose

March 2, 2010 in Guidelines, Policies

Acronyms dealing with accessibility that you need to know. Read the rest of this entry →

Timeline of Disability Laws/ Services & Key Terminology

March 2, 2010 in Accessibility in Education, Policies

1817 – American School for the Deaf
First school for disabled children in the Western Hemisphere
1857 – Act of Congress
Incorporated the Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf, Dumb and Blind along with granting a $150 a year maintenance and tuition fee for each child received into the institution.
1864 – Act signed by Abraham Lincoln. Columbia Institute for Deaf, Dumb and Blind is able to confer college degrees – signed by Abraham Lincoln
“Determine the thing that can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.” – Abraham Lincoln

Procuring Accessible Information Technology

March 2, 2010 in Accessibility, Accessibility Evaluations, Information Technology

In order to ensure accessibility of IT products used at the University of Washington, those responsible for making decisions about which products to procure must consider accessibility as one of the criteria for acquisition. This is especially critical for enterprise-level systems or technologies that affect a large number of students, faculty, and/or staff. Considering accessibility in procurement involves the following steps:

  1. Vendors must be asked to provide information about the accessibility of their products.
  2. The information provided by vendors must be valid, measured using a method that is reliable and objective.
  3. Those making procurement decision must be able to objectively evaluate the accessibility of products, and to scrutinize the information provided by vendors.

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Web Accessibility Guidelines

March 2, 2010 in Accessibility, Guidelines

What is accessible web design?

Accessible web design is the pratice of designing and developing websites that are usable by everyone. People who use the web have a growing variety of characteristics. As web developers, we can not assume that all our users are accessing our content using the same web browser or operating system as we are, nor can we assume they’re using a traditional monitor for output, or keyboard and mouse for input. Consider these users:

  • Most individuals who are blind use either audible output (products called screen readers that read web content using synthesized speech), or tacticle output (a refreshable Braille device).
  • Individuals with learning disabilities such as dyslexia may also use audible output.
  • Individuals with low vision may use screen magnification software that allows them to zoom into a portion of the visual screen.
  • Many others with less-than-perfect eyesight may enlarge the font on websites using standard browser functions, such as Ctrl + in Firefox and Internet Explorer 7 (Windows).
  • Individuals with fine motor impairments may be unable to use a mouse, and instead rely exclusively on keyboard commands, or use assistive technologies such as speech recognition, head pointers, mouth sticks, or eye-gaze tracking systems.
  • Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing are unable to access audio content, so video needs to be captioned and audio needs be transcribed.
  • Four million iPhones were sold within their first 200 days on the market in 2007-08. iPhone users navigate the web using a small screen and touch interface on a device that doesn’t support Adobe Flash.

An accessible web site works for all of these users, and countless others not mentioned. The W3C summarizes web accessibility nicely in their Draft Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. WCAG 2.0 is organized into the following four key concepts:

  • Web content must be perceivable
  • Web content must be operable
  • Web content must be understandable
  • Web content must be robust

There are many possible approaches to attaining accessibility as defined by these four concepts. The following is one recommended approach.

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Information Technology Accessibility Policies and Standards

March 2, 2010 in Accessibility, Accessibility Standards, Policies

UW, state and federal policies and standards direct and guide the development, procurement and use of accessible IT at the University of Washington.

The UW Non-Discrimination Policy

The University of Washington has an equal opportunity and reasonable accommodation policy, approved by the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs by authority of Executive Order No. 4. The policy states:

The University of Washington reaffirms its policy of equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam era veteran in accordance with University policy and applicable federal and state statutes and regulations. The University of Washington is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, education and employment for individuals with

To ensure that all faculty, students and staff have equal opportunity, IT must be designed in such a
way that everyone has access. The above policy requires equal opportunity “in accordance with… applicable federal and state statutes and regulations.” These are described in the sections that follow.

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Web Accessibility: Guidelines for Administrators

March 2, 2010 in Accessibility, Guidelines

by Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D.

Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities and mandate that public programs and services be accessible to people with disabilities. Both the Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights have issued rulings and statements that support the position that web content is covered by this legislation. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that the web pages and other information technology of federal agencies be designed to be accessible to employees and visitors with disabilities. Those who provide websites, software, and other technology for the federal government must assure that their products meet accessibility standards.

How can administrators in educational institutions, libraries, companies, and other organizations assure that the websites their employees create and maintain are accessible to people with disabilities? Without technical expertise themselves, how do they direct their staff in this area? This publication provides guidance to non-technical administrators regarding how to assure that websites in their organizations are accessible to everyone. To more easily link to the resources referenced, use the online version of this publication at

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