Frequently asked questions
When you hear someone talking about “digital accessibility,” they’re talking about websites and other digital content that everyone can use.
Accessible digital content is designed to meet different user needs, preferences and situations. Individuals with disabilities are not the only audience for accessible web design and accessible digital content, however. Accessible design makes content universal, ensuring that everybody--regardless of ability--can perceive, understand, interact and engage with digital content.
Why is web accessibility important?
Implementing web accessibility standards is essential for users with disabilities, but useful for all.
The web plays a major role in our lives, whether we are browsing with a desktop computer, a mobile device or a laptop. When websites and digital content are properly designed, all users, including those with disabilities, are able to access the information. Therefore, it is important to ensure that content is created with all users in mind. To explore the impact of accessibility and the benefits to different users, take a moment to watch these web accessibility perspective videos from the Web Accessibility Initiative.
What standards must UD websites and digital properties meet?
Federal law requires the University to grant equal access to all programs and content regardless of an individual’s abilities. These laws apply not just to the University’s physical offerings but also to the University’s web-based materials and other digital content.
The federal mandate is defined by these statutes:
The Americans with Disabilities Act, as Amended (ADAAA, 2008)
Sections 504 and 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Specifically, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that people with disabilities have comparable access to and use of information technology, including website content, digital media and other electronic and information technology used, maintained, developed or procured by the University.
Further, digital publications about research funded by federal grants must now be accessible.
University web developers, digital content creators, multimedia experts, researchers and other faculty and staff do not need to become experts in these laws. The University is acquiring resources to help developers, writers, faculty and other staff learn how to improve the accessibility of the University’s websites, multimedia and other digital properties.
To comply with these laws, all University of Delaware digital content must comply with the following digital accessibility guidelines:
How does accessibility help UD meet its goals?
Developing a culture that ensures everyone has full access to digital information is a significant step toward meeting the aims of the Action Plan for Diversity at the University of Delaware.
“To achieve excellence as a learning, teaching and scholarly institution, our faculty, student body, staff and administration must represent the world we inhabit in an effort to prepare our students to live and work in an increasingly diverse world.” - An Action Plan for Diversity at The University of Delaware (2015)
Although it is true that federal statutes require institutions to meet disability-related standards, building accessible digital content helps the University build and maintain an environment of inclusive excellence for all.
Accessible digital content also helps the University meet student success goals: Accessible websites and media help students from diverse backgrounds, identities, and abilities to persist, thrive and graduate.
Finally, improving the accessibility of the University’s digital content ensures that the University is investing in intellectual capital that will have impact far beyond our own campus.
Who uses accessible content?
Accessible technology works for everybody, but is essential for people in a variety of situations:
People with learning disabilities and English language learners may use software to have academic material read out loud by a computer while also seeing the words highlighted on a screen. This process can improve these people’s comprehension of the material, as might adjustments to color, contrast and alternative fonts.
People who are visually impaired use software to have text read out loud. Most people who use screen readers navigate the computer with a keyboard, not a mouse, and some attach Braille keyboards. Those with partial vision loss often choose to enlarge the content and graphics on their computer screen or use software that emulates a large magnifying glass over the screen.
People with limited upper limb mobility or difficulty typing (repetitive stress injuries) may use voice input (speech-to-text) to input text and control mouse functions.
People with profound motor disabilities use voice input and a variety of other assistive technologies to control their computers and interact with digital content.
People who are deaf or hearing impaired may use captions, amplification or sound sent to one ear, rather than both, to hear material more clearly.
People with cognitive impairments, brain injuries or stroke benefit from clean, simple interfaces and web pages without flashing or flickering content, or content that fades in and out of focus.
People who are color blind need the ability to change colors on a web page or screen to see content. They can not distinguish important ideas or areas by color.
People who are aging benefit from a combination of technologies to assist with vision, hearing, mobility and cognitive delays.