The Southeast ADA Center strives to ensure that its website is aesthetically pleasing, useful, and accessible. If you have any questions or comments on the website accessibility or finding information, please contact us via email ADAsoutheast@syr.edu or call 404-541-9001 [voice].
Our website design and development process is based and continually refined from usability research, user feedback, and established Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) plus various methods are incorporated to promote and maximize accessibility and usability.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
The WCAG have guidelines that are organized under 4 design principles of web accessibility – POUR: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust. Each principle has guidelines, and for each guideline, there are testable success criteria for WCAG conformance -Levels: A, AA, and AAA. The basis for determining conformance to the WCAG are the success criteria – see: Understanding Levels of WCAG conformance.
Methods to Promote Web Accessibility and Usability
- Alternative text and descriptions for images
- Links clearly identified
- Cascading style sheet (CSS)
- Usability with alternative computer technology
- Code (markup) validation
- Consistent navigation & shortcuts
- Clear and simple language
Alternative text and descriptions for graphics (non-text)
The Southeast ADA website uses graphical elements to supplement the recognition and understanding of content. When a graphic is used, a short, literal description of what the image represents is provided. This description known as alt-text (short for alternative text) is displayed in text-only displays, when images are “turned off”, and when a situation results in difficulty viewing the graphics (i.e. slow download or Internet connection). For people using graphical web browsers (i.e. Internet Explorer), the alternative text, if present, appears briefly when the pointing device (i.e. mouse) hovers over the graphic.
For complex graphics, more detailed information may be offered through a caption or by linking the graphic to another web page that describes the graphic – see example of description for a complex graphic (Logo for Southeast ADA).
Example of the code for an image (IMG) with its alternative text (alt) and a link (a href):
<a href=”logodescription.htm” title=”Description of Southeast ADA Logo” ><IMG src=”logo.gif” alt=”Logo for Southeast ADA”></a>
Links clearly identified
The Southeast ADA website provides logical and consistent navigation. Links are brief and meaningful to ensure readability if read out of context. For example, instead of “Click here,” the link may be “More News.” Links like the example, if read by itself, clearly inform the user of what to expect and are helpful when scanning. Clearly identified links also assist users whose technology can list all the links of a webpage, and take into consideration people who may be using alternative computer access technology (“click” is specific to a mouse).
Cascading style sheet (CSS)
The Southeast ADA website uses templates and a cascading style sheet (CSS) to achieve a consistent style of presentation across webpages and facilitate separation of the content from the layout or format. The CSS is one file that is applied to each webpage, and specifies the “look and feel” characteristics (i.e. color, font size, spacing) for a particular website feature (i.e. page title). Thus, if a change is desired (i.e. color of page title), you make the change in the CSS file, and that change will take place in all the webpages with that feature. Users can choose to use the CSS for a website, their own customized CSS, or choose to “turn off” CSS. This website is tested to ensure its usability with the CSS “turned off,” and the CSS is verified to meet established specifications using the W3C CSS Validation Service.
Usability with alternative computer technology
The Southeast ADA website is tested to be usable with screen reader technology (i.e. Jaws), and in numerous operating systems (i.e. Windows, Macintosh) running different graphical web browsers (i.e. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari). Various environments and conditions for viewing the website are also tested, including no audio, text-only, keyboard only (no mouse), small/low-resolution screen, and voice or text output. In addition, the website conveys important information by more than color alone (i.e. required data of online form is in red and preceded by an asterisk*), The webiste is also tested to ensure sufficient color contrast for use by individuals with low vision, color-blindness, or a situation when color or lighting may be comprised.
Code (markup) validation
Most webpages are written in computer markup languages (i.e. HTML, XHTML) that structure text, add media content, and specify what appearance, or style, the result should have. As for every language, these have their own grammar, vocabulary and syntax, and every document written with these computer languages are supposed to follow these rules (generally called a DTD – document type definition).
The process of verifying whether a document actually follows the rules for the language(s) it uses is called validation, and the tool used for that is a validator. A document that passes this process with success is called valid. We use the free online W3C Markup Validation Service to ensure that our webpages are valid to the grammar identified in the code of the webpage.
In addition, all forms are validated and have labels (i.e.”Name”) associated with their field or input (i.e. text box to enter your name).
Consistent navigation & shortcuts
The Southeast ADA website provides consistent navigation and shortcut features such as:
- “Skip to Page Content” link in the header of every page to take the user over the navigation and directly to the title/text of the page.
- Navigation bar across the top of each page.
- “Top of Page” link at the end of the content for each page to take the user back to where the content starts.
- For long or multi-part pages, links that go to the main or topical headings within a page are available as a bulleted list or included in the introductory paragraph.
A Site Map link is provided to find information and obtain an overview of the website structure. Also, the Accessibility link in the footer of every page goes to a description of the accessibility and usability features of this website.
Clear and simple language
The Southeast ADA website strives to use clear and simple language appropriate for the content of the website. Large blocks of information are divided into more manageable groups using elements, such as: paragraphs, lists, and headings. Scanning of information is facilitated by “front-loading” headings and paragraphs, and/or offering a list of links to topical headings within a page.
Furthermore, where necessary, supplemental text with graphic elements are provided to facilitate comprehension.