Guidelines for Web Accessibility

In order to ensure accessibility within all USM websites, web accessibility guidelines should be adhered to on each campus. These guidelines should facilitate website accessibility in the areas of development, auditing, correcting, and monitoring.

Accessibility Standards

General web standards include the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) which summarizes web accessibility in its Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG). In general, it is recommended that USM institutions adhere to WCAG 2.0 standards for web-based products/services, with level AA conformance. WCAG 2.0 is organized into the following four key concepts:

  • Web content must be perceivable.
    • Provide text alternatives for non-text content.
    • Provide captions and other alternatives for multimedia.
    • Create content that can be presented in different ways, including by assistive technologies, without losing meaning.
    • Make it easier for users to see and hear content.
  • Web content must be operable.
    • Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
    • Give users enough time to read and use content.
    • Do not use content that may cause seizures.
    • Help users avoid and correct mistakes in navigation.
  • Web content must be understandable.
    • Make text readable and understandable.
    • Make content appear and operate in predictable ways.
    • Help users avoid and correct mistakes.
  • Web content must be robust.
    •  Maximize compatibility with current and future user tools.

Although written specifically for web content, these principles apply to other technologies as well.

Maintenance of Standards

New and updated administrative websites, web applications and web content produced by USM institutions or by third-party developers should, at a minimum, conform to baseline accessibility standards as defined in WCAG 2.0 AA standards. An enterprise tool should be used to ensure that accessibility standards are met. Each USM institution should have access to a website accessibility enterprise tool that is capable of scanning current websites for accessibility errors, being programmed to conduct regularly-scheduled scans, and being utilized to evaluate any new content added to campus websites.

The necessary training and information should be provided to faculty and staff who develop or post content on websites so they can effectively use automated tools to scan, repair and replace website content to ensure accessibility. Accessibility audits should then be conducted on an on-going basis. After an initial audit, an individualized campus correction action plan should be developed that identifies the supports needed to address inaccessible websites.

Regarding third-party websites, if remediation or replacement of the website is not possible or would constitute an undue burden, a plan to provide an equally effective alternate form of access should be developed and implemented.

Each USM institution should identify the responsible party for enforcing and monitoring the web accessibility process.