Web Accessibility Policy
The University of Akron (UA) is committed to providing an accessible experience for visitors to our web resources. As an institution of higher learning, we have an ethical and legal responsibility to ensure all students, employees, and our community can use our web-based educational material and services. Therefore, an accessible website is of the utmost importance. We will strive for universal usability to ensure the online experience is better for everyone. Part of universal accessibility is ensuring the website is accessible. This policy serves as a guide for UA content creators and policymakers.
The University is actively committed to ongoing review as technologies change and evolve.
- University students
- Current, prospective, and alumni
- University employees
- Faculty, staff, administrators
- The University community
- Researchers, partners, visitors, local and regional “neighbors”
For the purposes of this policy, web accessibility will cover content accessed through a web browser – either on a desktop/laptop or mobile device. Electronic and digital content served through other means (e.g., text messaging and interactive bulletin boards) are beyond the scope of this document and should be addressed through other policies.
The University will ensure online content meets level A and level AA criteria of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 or higher.
The responsibilities for an accessible website fall into three categories.
- Administrators and policymakers who:
- Evaluate and purchase web systems – or establish web-related partnerships
- Establish policies that impact University web resources
- Departments that manage web systems, including:
- The UA Webteam
- University Libraries and Instructional Services
- University Communications and Marketing (UCM)
- Information Technology Services
- Content creators, including:
- Faculty and staff developing web content
- Faculty and staff developing course content for online delivery
- Departments, colleges and schools creating and maintaining websites in our primary web systems
- Individuals creating content in third-party software, such as online surveys and e-commerce, within the limits of the software providers
Creating accessible content at the design phase is easier than remediation. The responsible parties should apply the WCAG 2.0 criteria at every step of the development process.
Process for implementation
- The Department of Purchasing and the Office of General Counsel will include accessibility requirements in any new agreements related to UA’s web resources.
- Departments that manage web resources will work to ensure that the frameworks of those systems are accessible – and provide training to content creators on accessible content.
- The University will provide periodic training – particularly for new faculty members and content creators – on making accessible sites and content.
- The University will post a list of statements from vendors on compliance, including a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT).
- Periodic review of the website for accessibility concerns will be conducted – at the levels of both the individual content creator and the responsible departments.
- Review when vendors update resources (e.g., Learning Management System (LMS), survey vendor, etc.)
- Web content
- Responsibility of content creator when content is updated.
- Course content:
- Responsibility of each faculty on a semester basis.
- Recommended at beginning of each semester or as content is added.
- Establish a process to respond to submitted issues and accessibility issues as stated in the next section.
Remediation for non-accessible content
When issues are found, a centralized, accessible form will allow users to share information about the problem with UCM. UCM will address the issue directly or route to the responsible parties for resolution. This structure is similar to the reporting done for other technical issues on websites. The hyperlink can be deployed to other platforms as needed – including the LMS. Systems will be implemented in third-party tools to provide a reporting mechanism if a direct hyperlink is not appropriate.
Related to the remediation process, a separate form will allow content creators and departments to request an exemption to the provisions of this policy. The Office of Accessibility and/or Human Resources and/or the ADA coordinator will evaluate the request and, wherever possible, will provide alternative solutions. A viable exception could be for small research groups with technical limitations or for projects in a prototype stage.
All visitors to UA’s web resources deserve a positive and enriching experience when accessing content produced by our community of creators, departments, and administrators. Working together and following the WCAG standards will allow the University to improve on our web presence overall.