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As defined by the Department of Justice (DoJ) in their Office of Civil Rights (OCR) resolutions, “accessible” means that a person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability in an equally effective and equally integrated manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use. The person with a disability must be able to obtain the information as fully, equally, and independently as a person without a disability. If you have questions about accessibility or accommodations at UMass Amherst, please contact Disability Services.
The information outlined on this page provides accessibility resources and support, particularly in the areas of:
- Websites, web pages, and web-based software developed or utilized by the University.
- Multimedia, such as infographics and videos used for instruction, communication, and/or marketing purposes.
- Electronic documents utilized by University faculty, staff, and students (e.g., presentations, publications, forms, job aids, etc.).
- Electronic instructional materials, including videos/audio, presentations, syllabi and textbooks, as well as the platforms used to access these materials (e.g., web conferencing, online learning/content management systems, etc.).
- Classroom delivery techniques and considerations, whether instructors are delivering the content online or in person.
Assistive Technology Assessment
The Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI) Guidelines for Assistive Technology Assessment include a number of useful links on the evaluation and assessment of a variety of assistive technologies. Guidelines for Assistive Technology Assessment.
Implementing Web content accessibility principles makes Web content accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities, including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity and combinations of these.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
Developers should refer to the latest version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) during the full development cycle. The University of Massachusetts strives to adhere to WCAG levels A and AA for all web and mobile development.
Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA)
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has published proposed recommendations on Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA), which discusses how to apply semantic information for widgets, structures, and behaviors “. . . in order to allow assistive technologies to convey appropriate information to persons with disabilities". These guidelines include how to assign ARIA roles to error messages, such as invalid passwords, and structures used to organize content on the page (e.g., tables, feeds, tooltips, etc.).
When developing authoring tools for the University, web developers must ensure that the authoring tools meet the most current version of the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) published by the World Wide Web Consortium in 2015.
Mobile App Guidelines
Mobile apps, mobile web apps, and other non-desktop or laptop interfaces are subject to many of the same requirements referenced in the resources above.
WCAG has a working draft defining special considerations and best practices for mobile functionality. It is "non-normative," meaning that it does not set a standard. However, it identifies the areas where requirements should be set.
When creating Mobile Apps, please use the Mobile Accessibility Mapping page at W3C.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web content more accessible. Following these guidelines will also often make your Web content more usable to users in general. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.
Web Content Accessibility Checklist 2.0
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Checklist serves as an appendix to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. It lists all of the success criteria from WCAG 2.0 in a checkable list. The level of each success criterion is provided as well as a link to WCAG 2.0 for more information for each success criterion. For many readers, the Checklist provides a quick reference and overview to the information in WCAG 2.0.
Mass.gov – Web Accessibility Standards
Version 2.0 of the Web Accessibility Standards updates version 1.0, addressing Federal accessibility standards for the Internet and intranet, and for web-based applications. Version 2.0 is in effect as of the published date of these standards. Executive Department agencies must comply with these standards. Non-Executive Department agencies that have their sites integrated with the Mass.Gov portal must also comply. Other agencies are strongly encouraged to adhere to these standards. Mass.gov Web Accessibility Standards.
- Read Sheryl Burgstahler's "Universal Design: Process, Principles, and Applications" for an overview of the Universal Design process, the seven principles of Universal Design, and additional instructions on how Universal Design can be applied to software.
- Complete the free Introduction to Web Accessibility course offered by Google.
- Read through the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, which can be applied to any web application (e.g., admissions web forms, online job applications, public-facing sites, etc.). When referencing success criteria, we adhere to Level AA, which means services must meet both Level A and Level AA criteria.
- Develop a more tangible understanding of the WCAG 2.0 guidelines by reviewing Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM) articles, including Introduction to Web Accessibility, Constructing a POUR (Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust) Website, and Designing for Screen Reader Compatibility.
- Join the WebAIM community to pose questions to other developers around the world when uncertain of how to deal with an accessibility issue.
- If creating an authoring tool, please review the ATAG 2.0 Guidelines.
- Reach out to your Campus IT Office for semi-automated testing tools.