The Welcoming Website Part 3: Making the Most of Accessibility Check
by Kate Browne, Technology Trainer at Illinois Wesleyan University
on March 02, 2016
If you have been making regular accessibility checks on your institution’s web pages, you may be familiar with some of the language and common issues of web accessibility. Many of these issues, like color contrast and alt text on images, can be assessed through a review of the live page or by examining elements in the WYSIWYG Editor. However, other issues exist deeper in the page structure and may be imperceptible during a surface-level review. OmniUpdate’s OU Campus™ provides an Accessibility Check tool that can help reveal code-level accessibility issues to thoroughly address accessibility compliance.
The Accessibility Check tool offers several customizations based on the level of compliance required. Set at the account level, administrators can choose between WCAG, Section 508, Stanca Act, and BITV 2.0. You can find more information on the differences between these designations using the resources pages at WebAIM.
Because the Accessibility Check tool is set at the account level, your institution should decide on a compliance guideline, as well as whom in the organization should have access to the tool. You also have the option to show “likely” and “potential” problems, in addition to “known” problems.
Using the Accessibility Check Tool
Once a compliance guideline is set and the appropriate users have access, the Accessibility Check tool can be run at the page level. Depending on your personal expertise with code, you may need to work with a web developer to implement the necessary changes. Some of the errors included in the report generated from the Accessibility Check tool are in areas that cannot be edited by users. Working with your CMS administrators and web developers to determine how page structure aids or impairs accessibility can facilitate conversations about everyone’s responsibility for ensuring compliance.
Users have several options when performing an Accessibility Check, including from the Pages file view and through the Final Check modal when publishing. The OU Campus™ support pages provide detailed instructions on all of these options.
What to Do with Problems
It can be intimidating to run an accessibility check that produces multiple errors, but remember that accessibility compliance is a process. Since some errors such as adding alt text to images can be corrected by users, delegating some of these tasks may be a good solution. Developing an implementation strategy that prioritizes correcting known errors while maintaining a regular review schedule using the Accessibility Check tool rounds out a comprehensive accessibility review plan.
In my final post of this series, I will offer some tips on collaborating with users across campus to develop, implement, and maintain a cultural climate that makes web accessibility a priority.
About the Blogger
Kate Browne is a Technology Trainer at Illinois Wesleyan University. She comes to IT by way of teaching and research in digital humanities as an English Studies PhD candidate—a fact she uses to remind her OU Campus content managers that technology expertise isn’t just for computer science majors anymore.