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Web Accessibility

On May 17, 2010, the New York State Office for Technology released a revised Policy (NYS-P08-005), entitled "Accessibility of Web-Based Information and Applications." This new policy replaced and superseded the previous versions and revisions and became effective immediately. The policy requires all New York State agencies, which includes FIT, to provide universally accessible websites to enable persons with disabilities to access information.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 also 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.

In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. The law (29 U.S.C. § 794 (d)) applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508, agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to access available to others. On January 18, 2017 the Access Board issued a final rule that updates accessibility requirements for information and communication technology (ICT) in the federal sector covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The rule jointly updates and reorganizes the Section 508 standards and Section 255 guidelines to converge with the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), a globally recognized voluntary consensus standard for web content and ICT. 

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 or who may be navigating a page without the use of a mouse.

Accessibility extends to users who have hearing impairment, cognitive impairment, motor impairment, and other kinds of limitations. 

Where do web accessibility guidelines come from?

Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C)

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. 

State and Federal Government

Schools that receive public funding are subject to guidelines determined by their respective state legislatures and the federal government. (see above). Schools that are part of larger systems may also be subject to additional guidelines.

FIT's Commitment to Web Accessibility

The Web Communications Team works diligently to ensure the accessibility of the FIT website. The site 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. This site uses Flash very minimally and only for non-essential/decorative content. Our content management system prompts content creators to supply text equivalents to non-text elements such as pictures and graphics. The college is continually 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 rely on Javascript, Flash, or interactive content to convey information
  • 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"