Over the summer, DePaul accelerated the development of its new website accessibility policy. Created to comply with federal antidiscrimination laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act requiring websites to be accessible to individuals with disabilities, the new policy establishes guidelines and procedures for generating and managing accessible online content.
The policy also will result in a transparent and clear process for helping individuals with disabilities obtain the resources they need. In addition to creating guidelines, the new policy designates a website accessibility coordinator to serve as the point person for people who have difficulty consuming content and other related issues.
"This policy expresses DePaul's ongoing commitment to making its websites accessible to individuals with a range of disabilities," says Laura Warren, senior associate general counsel. "It allows us to better serve and support disabled students and community members, improves institutional awareness and education on the issue, and formalizes the university's compliance with federal laws."
Throughout the summer, members of Information Services and Web Communications worked with an external audit team to ensure DePaul's sites meet compliance standards and to determine areas for improvement. Based on those recommendations, Information Service will continue to conduct regular scans and implement global fixes on DePaul's sites, and work with the Center for Students with Disabilities on issues that require further attention.
"We've implemented fixes to our sites that require images to have more descriptive text, so software that helps the visually impaired can work more effectively," says Cara Kaufmann-Rosenthal, director of development in Information Services and the new website accessibility coordinator for DePaul. "We have also developed a tool allowing site managers to see exactly where their pages need to be fixed or modified."
Beyond requiring site managers to make adjustments on new content moving forward, Kaufmann-Rosenthal and her team will contact individual site editors and approvers for training sessions throughout the fall quarter. These training sessions will help site managers make changes to current and past content, educate them about what to look for when selecting web technology vendors and produce further awareness about website accessibility needs and policies. This year the team also plans to develop universal fixes to generate closed captioning for all university videos.