Policy Governing World Wide Web Accessibility at UW–Madison
The World Wide Web is a major, if not a primary, source of information for many people. Acknowledging that the University of Wisconsin–Madison (hereafter referred to as the “University”) is engaged in Web page and Web site development for all its constituencies, this policy establishes minimum standards for Web page accessibility.
The University, along with UW–System, endorses the Guidelines of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) as the standard for World Wide Web accessibility and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. W3C is composed of over 400 member organizations world-wide (public and private) developing common protocols to promote the evolution of the World Wide Web and ensure its inter-operability. As part of its work, the W3C has developed accessibility guidelines for World Wide Web sites and pages.
The standards of the Federal Rehabilitation Act (Section 508) are consistent with the W3C Guidelines and provide achievable, well documented guidelines for implementation. Effective immediately, all new or revised Web pages published or hosted by the University must be in compliance with the World Wide Web standards defined in the Federal Rehabilitation Act Section 508, specifically subsections 1194.22 and subsection 1194.31. A revised Web page is a Web page where significant redesign of a page or a major revision of the content of a page takes place.
- Reasonable effort must be taken to ensure that legacy Web pages are in compliance with these subsections of Federal Rehabilitation Act Section 508 no later than November 1, 2003. That effort must be documented. Legacy Web pages will be considered those pages that are published prior to November 1, 2001.
- Upon specific request, information on legacy Web pages is to be made available to any individual needing access to such Web content, by revision or otherwise. The unit responsible for the creation of the information on the Web is responsible for providing that access.
- Upon specific request, information on Web sites and Web pages in archive status (e.g. no longer in use but subject to records retention plans) containing core administrative or academic information, official records, and similar information) is to be made available/accessible to any individual needing access to such Web content, by revision or otherwise.
- For items 1.A., 1.B. and 1.C. undue administrative or financial burdens may contribute to a determination that alternative formats be used to provide the information to individuals requiring use of the information.
Priority should be given to creating accessible Web pages for core institutional information such as course work, registration, advising, admission, catalogs, and student services information. Units with large Web sites containing core institutional information should establish priorities for ensuring access to these pages according to the pages being used or requested most often. For setting priorities to make legacy Web pages accessible, the following guidance is suggested:
- The top 20% of Web pages most frequently used (e.g. that get the largest number of hits) should be placed in the first priority.
- Pages required for participation, funding, disability-related services and other key pages needed by people with disabilities, not already in the top 20%, should also be placed in the first priority.
- Each department or University entity is responsible for determining the top 20% of Web pages used and other high priority Web pages.
- Web pages specifically requested to be made accessible as part of a formal accommodation request shall be made accessible as soon as possible, or an equally effective alternative shall be provided. Equally effective means that it communicates the same information in as timely a fashion as does the Web page. Undue administrative or financial burdens may contribute to a determination that alternative formats be used to provide the information to individuals requiring use of the information.
Each University Web site must contain an accessible link or a person to contact if users have trouble accessing content within the site. This would usually be the Web page developer.
Note: The addition of a contact person is not sufficient, in and of itself, in meeting accessibility guidelines.
It is recommended that a variety of Web browsing software (including text-only browsers), different workstations, and evaluation tools be used to test access to Web pages.
Note: In the U.S. General Services Administration’s nationwide training on making federal Web pages accessible, participants are told to run pages through a voice output Web browser as a check for accessibility.
Where compliance is not possible or may require extraordinary measures, exceptions to this policy may be granted by the UW–Madison Office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO). Send an e-mail to WebException@doit.wisc.edu with your name and phone number and a member of the CIO’s staff will be in touch with you within three working days.
Information about training, consulting, and technological tools can be found at http://www.doit.wisc.edu/accessibility as well as definitions and resources related to the Federal Rehabilitation Act Section 508 and W3C.
Issued: University of Wisconsin–Madison
Melany Newby Vice Chancellor for Legal and Executive Affairs, ADA Coordinator; Annie Stunden Chief Information Officer, Director, Division of Information Technology
Original Date Issued: December 6, 2000
Date of Revision: October 22, 2001
Revision Effective Date: November 1, 2001
Date of Second Revision: April 15, 2003
Second Revision Effective Date: May 1, 2003
Third Revision Effective Date: August 30, 2007
New cosponsors: Lisa Rutherford, Director of Administrative Legal Services, ADA Coordinator; Ron Kraemer, Chief Information Officer, Vice Provost Information Technology
To: Deans and Directors
From: Melany S. Newby Vice Chancellor for Legal and Executive Affairs, ADA Coordinator; Annie Stunden, Chief Information Officer (CIO), Director, Division of Information Technology
Re: World Wide Web Accessibility Policy
Date: October 22, 2001
In December 2000, UW–Madison developed and adopted a policy concerning World Wide Web Accessibility that demonstrated the University’s commitment to making information and communications technologies accessible to individuals with disabilities. The policy was based on the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guidelines as the standard for World Wide Web accessibility. UW–Madison continues to strive to achieve the goals of the World Wide Web Consortium.
In June 2001, the Federal Rehabilitation Act’s Section 508 standards were established as the level of compliance required for institutions receiving federal funding. These standards, consistent with W3C’s, provide achievable, well documented guidelines for implementation. The attached, updated UW–Madison World Wide Web Accessibility Policy therefore endorses compliance with the Federal Rehabilitation Act’s Section 508 standards, specifically subsections 1194.1 through 1194.22 and 1194.31. Web sites may still be developed and presented using the W3C guidelines; the Section 508 standards establish the threshold or minimum for compliance.The updated policy also sets forth a method for identifying portions of current Web sites to be brought into compliance as a priority, based on number of “hits” or specific requests for access.
Compliance with the Federal Rehabilitation Act’s Section 508 standards should help the University achieve the goal of ensuring that individuals with disabilities have access to the increasing amount of Web-based material originating on our campus. There is a strong linkage between the required standards and the development of current technologies that support compliance with these standards.
The updated policy supports the University’s effective use of emerging technologies in instruction; revised time-lines help make accessible the information residing on legacy pages. Our success requires a continual coordination of programmatic needs, technology, and services. The policy will therefore be reviewed regularly to ensure its effectiveness in an environment of rapidly changing technology.
Information about training, consulting, and technological tools can be found at http://www.doit.wisc.edu/accessibility/ (Web Accessibility Resources) as well as definitions and resources related to the Federal Rehabilitation Act–Section 508 and W3C.
Where compliance is not possible or may require extraordinary measures, exceptions to this policy may be granted by the Office of the Chief Information Officer. Your inquiries and requests for assistance are welcomed.