Auburn University is committed to ensuring equal access to web information and technology for all its faculty, staff, and students. This standard establishes minimum guidelines for the accessibility of web-based information necessary to meet this goal and ensure compliance with federal regulations.
Official Auburn University web pages developed by or for colleges, departments, programs or units. Individual web pages published by faculty, students, and non-university organizations that are hosted by Auburn University and do not conduct University-related business are encouraged to adopt the standards referenced by the AU Web Accessibility Standard.
All official Auburn University Web sites created, revised, or published on or after January 24, 2011 should be in compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG) -Level A and AA.
Web pages published prior to January 24, 2011, are considered Legacy Pages. Legacy pages should be made accessible or provided in alternate format upon request. Legacy pages should include a contact for users having difficulty using the page.
Upon specific request addressing accessibility, legacy pages should be updated to comply with WCAG 2.0, or equivalent alternatives should be made available in a timely manner. Depending upon the type of information, the services provided by the web page, or the complexity of the content, a timely resolution should be considered.
All new and redesigned Web pages published by any college, department, program, or unit on or after January 24, 2011.
Pages that must be accessed in a limited time frame to participate in a program, to utilize a service or benefit from information offered by any unit of the University
Web pages that have been archived. Where compliance is not technically possible or may require extraordinary measure due to the purpose of the page and the nature of the information.
A status report summarizing progress towards fully accessible web space over the past year and designating targets for the upcoming year will be included in an annual report to the Provost.
These standard and associated standards will be reviewed at least once every three years. A review group will be composed of designees from the Office of Information Technology, Office of Communications and Marketing, and the Office of Accessibility.
Policy on Electronic Information and Technology Accessibility
For assistance with the implementation of these standards, refer to the resources below:
Below you will find a list of some key principles of accessible web design. Most accessibility principles can be implemented very easily and will not impact the overall "look and feel" of your web site. The links provided below will take you away from Auburn University's website to more detailed explanations of the topic located on the webaim.org and other accessibility websites.
Alternative text provides a textual alternative to non-text content in web pages. It is especially helpful for people who are blind and rely on a screen reader to have the content of the website read to them. For more information, on providing appropriate image descriptions, refer to this WebAIM Article on using Alternative Text.
altattribute, even if it is null (alt="")
altattribute cannot be added to CSS images.
Headings, lists, and other structural elements provide meaning and structure to web pages. They can also facilitate keyboard navigation within the page. For more information on improving document structure, refer to this WebAIM article on Improving Document Structure.
ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) is an easy and powerful technical specification for ensuring your site structure is accessible. By assigning ARIA roles and landmarks to web elements, you enhance the ability of screen reader users to navigate and interact with your content. ARIA roles and landmarks can be easily added to your HTML, in the same way that you add classes to HTML in order to load attributes from CSS. For more information on including ARIA roles and landmarks, refer to this WebAIM article on using Landmarks and Roles.
Tables are used online for layout and to organize data. Tables that are used to organize tabular data should have appropriate table headers (the
th element). Data cells should be associated with their appropriate headers, making it easier for screen reader users to navigate and understand the data table. For more information on creating accessible tables, refer to this WebAIM article on Table Accessibility.
Ensure that every form element (text field, checkbox, dropdown list, etc.) has a
label and make sure that
label is associated to the correct form element using the
label element. Also make sure the user can submit the form and recover from any errors, such as the failure to fill in all required fields. For more information on improving form navigation, refer to this WebAIM article on Creating Accessible Forms.
Every link should make sense if the link text is read by itself. Screen reader users may choose to read only the links on a web page. Certain phrases like "click here" and "more" must be avoided. For more information on writing better link descriptions, refer to this WebAIM article on Creating more Usable Links.
Videos and live audio must have captions and a transcript. With archived audio, a transcription may be sufficient.
Ensure accessibility of non-HTML content, including PDF files, Microsoft Word documents, PowerPoint presentations and Adobe Flash content.
In addition to all the other principles listed here, PDF documents and other non-HTML content must be as accessible as possible. If you cannot make it accessible, consider using HTML instead or, at the very least, provide an accessible alternative. PDF documents should also include a series of tags to make it more accessible. A tagged PDF file looks the same, but it is almost always more accessible to a person using a screen reader. For more information, refer to this WebAIM article on Accessible Media.
You should provide a method that allows users to skip navigation or other elements that repeat on every page. This is usually accomplished by providing a "Skip to Main Content," or "Skip Navigation" link at the top of the page which jumps to the main content of the page. For more information on allowing users to skip repetitive elements on the page, refer to this WebAIM article on the Skipping Repetitive Elements.
The use of color can enhance comprehension, but do not use color alone to convey information. That information may not be available to a person who is color blind and will be unavailable to screen reader users. For more information on using color correctly, refer to this WebAIM article on Using Color.
There are many ways to make your content easier to understand. Write clearly, use clear fonts, and use headings and lists appropriately. For more information on making sure content is clearly written and easy to read, refer to this WebAIM article on Writing Clear Content.
For further assistance with the key principles of web accessibility, refer to the resources below:
Notability is a popular note taking app for the iPad.
Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders and makes these notes completely searchable, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go. Evernote also works very well with the Livescrbe Pens.
Quizlet allows you to create flash cards, take practice test, and has a built in text-to-speech function to help students with learning disabilities.
To ensure Auburn University complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Americans with Disabilities of 1990, and 2008 Americans with Disabilities Amendments, the process below has been created to assist you with the development of captioned videos. As part of the Auburn University's Web Accessibility Policy, audio and video posted to the web should follow the recommendations of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) outlined below. When captioning your own videos, the captions should meet the standards described in the Captioning Best Practices section below.
Each submission will be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. Captioning urgency will be determined by the video’s purpose, length, and usage. Each video must meet the mission of Auburn University.
Due to the increase in media used for instructional purposes and because of continuing increases in media produced by the University, the Office of Accessibility (OA) will prioritize the captioning process. OA will caption media in the following order of priority:
Videos will be captioned and returned in a timely manner for classroom use or to post on university websites. Cost of production will be determined on an individual bases.
Captions allow deaf and hard of hearing viewers to understand the spoken content of videos by displaying words in sync with audio. Below are the audio and video recommendations from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) and some generally accepted captioning standards for compliance.
Universal design (UD) principles, which call for barrier-free design and architectural accessibility, are the result of changing demographics in America and the Civil Rights Movement of the last half of the twentieth century. With a greater population of people with disabilities and federal disability rights legislation, architecture and product design that could be universally used and accessed became increasingly important. The concept of universal access and use has now spread in the area of education and is known as Universal Design for Learning.
In 2008, the Higher Education Opportunity Act stated that post secondary institutions should design curricula with universal design principles for learning in mind. UD for learning principles is intended to reach the widest audience possible. While UD may not eliminate every request for accommodation, it should reduce numbers of requests. It is important to remember that subtle changes to course organization lessen the barriers faced by many students with disabilities.
Students with visual impairments that once had to wait a day or more to receive their syllabus now can gain instant access to an electronic version. Hard of hearing or deaf students that either received minimal information or none at all now have immediate access to captioned videos. Student with learning disabilities, who may find it difficult to listen to lectures and take relevant notes at the same time, will now benefit from lecture notes being stored on Blackboard or through some other accessible means.
The promise of UD development in the classroom will replace much of the need to retrofit barriers that may limit a student’s access to information. In 1997, the Center for Universal Design developed seven principles to consider when developing any product or environment.
Copyright © 1997 NC State University, The Center for Universal Design.
The Principles of Universal Design were conceived and developed by The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University. Use or application of the Principles in any form by an individual or organization is separate and distinct from the Principles and does not constitute or imply acceptance or endorsement by The Center for Universal Design of the use or application.
“Just as a school system would not design a new school without addressing physical accessibility, the implementation of emerging technology should always include planning for accessibility.” – United States Department of Education; Office for Civil Rights.
When procuring emerging technology to use in the classroom, we must thoughtfully consider the accessibility of the technology to ensure that Auburn University continues to provide an equitable and inclusive learning environment for students with disabilities. Before deciding to use emerging technology, faculty and staff should consider the following questions as part of the assessment process:
If the new technology is not accessible and there is no equivalent, accessible technology already available, the following questions should be asked:
Will accommodations result in the same enhanced learning experience and/or benefits and opportunities as the new technology?
Can the accommodations be made in a timely and efficient manner?
The guidelines above are based on the document “Frequently Asked Questions about the June 29, 2010, Dear Colleague Letter” released on May 26, 2011. To see the document in its entirety please visit the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights website.
To view Auburn University's policy on Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility, please visit the policy database.
If you have questions regarding the accessibility of technology you or your department are considering, please contact the Office of Accessibility.
Students in need of more complex accommodations such as braille, e-Books / e-text, converted Powerpoints, interpreting and captioning should schedule an appointment with their college's academic advisor to be informed about the nature of the courses being taken. Students should then schedule an appointment with a disability and technology specialist immediately after priority registration to discuss their accommodation needs for the next semester. Some accommodations such as braille textbooks could take from 6 months to a year to produce if not currently available.
"E-Text", which is similar to "eBooks", is the finished product of a process that scans textbook pages with high-speed scanners and then saves them as HTML documents to be posted on a secure website. This process enables persons with visual impairments or learning disabilities in reading to be more independent. Text-to-Speech software can read your material on the E-Text website, and the browser's capabilities allow you to enlarge documents for easy viewing. Knowing how to properly use the software and browser result in a new skill set that can be used throughout your college years and later, as you transition to the workplace. Text-to-Speech software is available in the Assistive Technology Lab.
Learning Ally and Bookshare offer membership to their services. You are encouraged to obtain a membership from each agency. Please visit the websites of Learning Ally and Bookshare for more information on becoming a member. Both services could be a valuable tool to use before and after graduation from Auburn University.
Before requesting an accessible textbook(s):
To request an accessible textbook(s):
For additional assistance with creating accessible documents, refer to the resources below: