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Website accessibility guidelines

 "Accessibility involves two key issues: first, how users with disabilities access electronic information, and second, how web content designers and developers enable web pages to function with assistive devices used by individuals with disabilities.

... For the web content designer/developer, the challenge is to remove the obstacles that prevent accessibility tools from functioning effectively. In many cases, these challenges are relatively simple to overcome, but sometimes the solutions require some additional thought and effort." Adobe

There is not such thing as an "Accessible" site, only sites with "better" or "worse" accessibility. The goal of this document is to give you guidelines and useful tools to help improve the accessibility of your site. Visit the support section on the Foxbright website for an easy to follow guide to making content accessible.

Accessibility Standards

Two standards of accessibility have emerged: Section 508, which refers to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998.  The accessibility standards of Section 508 apply to Federal agencies purchasing electronic and information technology.  The second standard is the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), which came up with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and organized them into three priority levels.  For purposes of comparison, Section 508 is the rough equivalent of the WAI priority 1 guidelines.

Checking for Accessibility

Various free tools are available that will work through your website and point out problems and give suggestions for improvement.  One of these is The Wave 3.0 Accessibility Tool.

Accessibility and the Foxbright CMS

Foxbright CMS will meet or exceed the requirements indicated in the WAI Priority 1 guidelines.  However, any CMS-driven website can only be as accessible as the content that is placed within it.  The following guidelines point out some of the areas that may present obstacles to accessibility. 

Provide text equivalent of all non-text content (ie. Images, audio, video)

  • Alternate text for images - Foxbright CMS provides a field in image properties to add alternate text content when adding any new image to the website. The alternate text is the description of the image that is read by a screen reader when it encounters that image. Images used for decoration do not require alternate text and are better off left blank.
  • Provide transcripts of audio or video presentations.

Ensure accessibility of documents and files

When considering what to do with a document on the web, the best approach, in terms of both ease-of-use for the general public as well as accessibility, is to convert the documents into web pages in the CMS.  For those situations where that is either not desirable or not feasible, please take the considerations listed below into account when uploading files.

Adobe Acrobat Files (PDF) can be divided into two categories: tagged PDF and Untagged PDF.  Tags provide additional information such as image description, text language and reading order to the screen reader.  An untagged PDF provides very poor accessibility, however just because a PDF is tagged does not mean that accessibility will automatically be high.  Use the following guidelines to help you evaluate your use of Adobe Acrobat files on your site:

  1. Is it a Tagged PDF? - Open the document in the professional version of Adobe 6 or greater.  Click on File -> Document Properties....  Look to where it says "Tagged PDF".  If the PDF is tagged, then proceed to the next step, otherwise consider either tagging it, or providing a plain-text alternate.  This alternate can be supplied by providing two links next to each other - one which opens the PDF, the other which opens a plain-text or RTF alternate.
  2. Evaluate the complexity of the document - If the document is in simple, paragraph format with little or no images, graphs, sidebars or other formatting features, it is likely that the automatically generated tags will be sufficient.  If the document contains formatting features, it will be necessary to manually edit the tags in the document or supply a plain-text alternate.

Microsoft Word (DOC) documents are moderately accessible assuming that the document is "structured".  At minimum this means that section headings should use the "Styles" in Word rather than applying font and size changes to each one.

Microsoft Powerpoint (PPT) documents are not accessible, and should only be used if an alternate form (such as HTML) is provided.


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