The purpose of universal design is to assure that anyone visiting a website has the best possible experience, with access to information and services regardless of technology or physical abilities. When our web visitors are unable to complete their task because a UNT website is not compatible with their device, browser or adaptive technology, they become frustrated and our brand is damaged.
Web pages and services provided via the Internet are required by UNT policy, federal and state laws to be tested and proven accessible. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, revised in January 2017, requires that all content provided via web pages at the University of North Texas comply, at a minimum, with conformance levels A and AA of the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. Each new website must also follow the guidelines in the UNT Web Accessibility Policy 5.1 before being published to the web.
Universal design principles assure the success of websites and services if the following guidelines are tested during the design, content and launch phases. A simple acronym to remember is POUR (Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust).
Since not everyone has the same abilities or equal use of the same senses, one of the keys to accessibility is ensuring that information is transformable from one form into another. Some general guidelines:
- Text should remain text and not be replaced by images.
- Images must be described with alternate text (“alt” attribute).
- Sound files must be accompanied with a transcript.
- Video files must be captioned.
- There should be sufficient contrast between text and background.
Not everyone uses a standard keyboard and mouse to access the web. Some people rely on adaptive technologies, such as speech recognition software, touchscreens or specially designed keyboards, that accommodate their disabilities. However, keyboard accessibility is one of the most important principles of web accessibility because content that's accessible by the keyboard is operable by the devices that emulate keyboard functionality. Some general guidelines:
- Test your website or service for navigation using only the keyboard and tab key.
- If plugins are used for navigation or features, test that the site functions without the plugin.
Most web content contains information communicated through language. The message should be as easy to understand as possible. The wording, as well as the words used, should be simple and concise. Some general guidelines:
- Text can be supplemented with illustrations, videos, animations, audio and content in other alternative formats. In fact, for some people with more severe cognitive disabilities or people with reading disabilities, these alternative formats may be necessary for comprehension.
- Providing summaries or abstracts of lengthy content.
- Break up long segments of text with subheads.
- Create bulleted items when possible.
Users should be allowed to choose their own technologies to access web content. This allows the users to customize their technologies to meet their needs, including accessibility needs. Web content that requires a certain technology, such as a certain browser or plugin, may exclude some types of users who either don't want to use that technology or can't use it. Some general guidelines:
- Test the website or service in multiple browsers.
- Test the website or service on multiple screen resolutions and sizes.
- Test the website on a mobile device or device emulator.
- Provide alternate content that can be accessed if a user does not have a plugin.
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0
- UNT's Web Accessibility Policy 5.1
- UNT System ITSS: Electronic Information Resource Accessibility Tools and Resources
- WebAIM Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool (WAVE)
- WebAIM Quick Reference: Web Accessibility Principles
- WebAIM Quick Reference: Testing Web Content for Accessibility
- W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI): Introduction to Web Accessibility
- W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI): Tips on Designing for Web Accessibility
- W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI): Before and After Demonstration of Applying Web Accessibility Guidelines
- W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI): Tips on Developing for Web Accessibility
- The Color Laboratory: Simutation of Color-Blind Perception of Colors
- The Functional Accessibility Evaluator (FAE): evaluates a website or a single web page based on the W3C WCAG 2.0 Level A and AA requirements