Ensuring equal access for everyone to independently navigate, communicate, and interact within our ever-growing – and necessary - digital environment requires that with intention, we create digital assets and technologies which are accessible and inclusive.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four adults (26%) in the US have some type of disability. The National Center for Education Statistics finds that nearly 20% of the undergraduate population have reported having a disability. Why would we create information and tools which may not be available to over 20% of our University community, prospective students and employees, and the general population?
It is imporant to take into consideration the many characteristics a person brings to the table, as well as the variety of devices used to access and interact with the information and opportunities we provide.
A person who is blind may navigate a webpage using screen reader software and rely on audio description to understand video content. People with motor disabilities may use alternative input devices such as switches, eye tracking software, or a mouth wand. Individuals who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing rely on captions and transcripts to understand audio and video content. People with cognitive and/or print disabilities benefit greatly from the structure and flexibility of digital content. Accessible technology works for all of these users and countless others with and without disabilities.
The University of Virginia Statement on Accessibility states that accessibility is a shared responsibility within the University community and one that “demands our continuous identification and removal of physical, technological, and attitudinal barriers”.
The University is also required by law to provide programs and services that are accessible to all qualified participants, including those with disabilities.
As you start to consider your digital envornment and all the digital content you create and are aware of, it can become overwhelming. Start small! Start by learning one of the seven core skills. As you become more comfortable with that skill, add another and continue to grow your skillset. You don't need to learn everything right away - these seven skills give you a starting point.
The seven core skills* involved in creating accessible digital content and assets are:
- Provide alternative text
- Assuring proper use of contrast and color
- Use of headings
- Proper use of lists
- Proper use of tables
- Accessibility of video and audio materials
(*Thanks to Univ of Minnesota - Accessible U)
We will continue to add resources and guidance specific to UVA to this website. Until all of the core information is provided, we will look to the good work of our our peers and other organizations for general information and direction to create an accessible digital environment.
Although the University does not have a specific office to address digital accessibility, there are many technologists throughout the University who are well versed in creating and developing accessible content.
The University of Virginia is currently in the middle of the Digital Accessibility Project (DAP), a multi-year project whose goal is to assess, remediate and build skillsets around the accessibility of our digital assets. Through this project a tool portfolio is available to help you assess and monitor the accessibility of your digital assets using AMP (Accessibility Management Platform) and build your skillset through online training materials found in Access University.
For more information on DAP or to contact the leadership team, send email to email@example.com.
Tips, techniques, and processes focusing on accessibility are shared through email lists and workshops. Intended for this purpose, you are encouraged to subscribe to the DAP_Tech email list (DAP underscore Tech). This list is intended for discussions surrounding creation of accessible digital assets and the accessibility of the UVA digital environment.
To subscribe to the DAP_Tech email list:
- Compose an email message. For the To: address, use firstname.lastname@example.org.
- In the email Subject line, type subscribe DAP_Tech firstname lastname, where firstname lastname is your actual first and last names.
- Leave the body of the message blank, including any signature lines.
- Send your email. You will receive a confirmation email on any actions taken on your request.
The Accessibility Partners @ UVA group is also available to address your questions or route to the best resource.
A listing of many conferences, workshops, and other training and professional development opportunities can be found on the Coordinator of Academic Accessibility / Professional Development website.
UVA Specific Resources:
Recommended Sites for an Introduction to Digital Accessiblity:
- WebAIM: Introduction to Web Accessibility
- Introduction to Web Accessibility - Includes Video 4:00 (W3C)
- IT Accessibility 101: Univ of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign
- LinkedIn Learning (Previously Lynda.com)
- Professional Development Opportunities
Help from Peer Institutions:
- Digital Accessibility Resources (Univ of Colorado - Boulder)
- Getting Started with Accessibility (University of Washington)
- Core Skills for Web Developers (University of Minnesota)
An internet search for “Digital Accessibility” will yield a number of results that will also provide guidance and help in creating accessibility digital assets.