On September 30, 1999, the New York State Office for Technology, issued Technology Policy 99-3, Universal Accessibility for NYS Web Sites. The policy requires all New York State agencies, which includes FIT, to provide universally accessible websites to enable persons with disabilities to access the sites.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 requires that U.S. programs and services be accessible to individuals with disabilities. A 1996 Department of Justice ruling makes it clear that ADA accessibility requirements apply to internet resources.
What is web accessibility?
Web accessibility removes barriers to electronic information and technology. Accessibility focuses on all users, including those who use assistive technology, such as screen readers. Web accessibility is making sure a page's code is written in a way to be as clear as possible to someone who may be listening to the page rather than reading it.
Accessibility extends to users who have hearing loss, cognitive impairment, motor impairment, and learning disabilities.
Where do web accessibility guidelines come from?
The Web Accessibility Initiative
Website guidelines are published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organization for the Internet. The most recent standard is WCAG 2.0, which was first recommended by W3C in 2008 and has undergone revision through 2014. There are three levels of WCAG 2.0: A, AA, and AAA, with AAA being the highest level of compliance. Many organizations work to comply as closely as possible with A level and then move toward AAA.
The Federal Government
The federal government also maintains its own set of requirements for accessibility under the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973. These rules are commonly referred to as Section 508. These requirements are periodically reviewed and updated to reflect changes in technology. Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 overlap, with the exception of just a few issues. A website complying with one set of rules will almost assuredly comply with the other.
FIT's Commitment to Web Accessibility
The Web Communications Team works diligently to ensure the accessibility of the FIT website. The site is built in such a way that utilizes cascading style sheets (CSS) which allow for separation of text from presentation so that the text can be reformatted for different devices including screen readers. The site uses Flash very minimally and only for non-essential/decorative content. The content management system prompts content creators to supply text equivalents to non-text elements such as pictures and graphics. The college is working to provide text alternatives to video and audio content.
Best Practices for FIT Web Editors
- label all images with alt tags
- use consistent navigation
- choose colors and contrast wisely
- label form fields
- don't put text inside graphics and images without also including the text on the webpage
- don't use PDF or MS Word documents in place of web content; all uploaded documents must meet the following criteria:
- form or official document that must remain in fixed form (for example, an official college policy)
- accessible to screen readers
- small size
- caption video and transcribe audio
- make link text descriptive so that it can be understood out of context: instead of "Click Here" use "Click Here to Register"