Web Accessibility Update

Accessibility on target

BY PAMELA RIESMEYER
Web Accessibility Coordinator

March 15 is fast approaching, and with it, the third deadline for our Web Accessibility Initiative. Our Web Accessibility Policy requires that 75 percent of Purdue Calumet’s Web pages be compliant with our guidelines. As of Jan. 28, we had reached 79 percent, so we are ahead of our goal.

Many indicators support figures

We use a number of methods to evaluate Web sites for compliance. We conduct manual reviews, which means taking a look at the pages ourselves and comparing what we find with what we expect to find, based on our guidelines. We also use special software that automates some of the work.  Our primary tool is Compliance Sheriff from HiSoftware, purchased last year.

Thoroughly testing a page by hand can take minutes, sometimes hours. The automated tool can scan thousands of pages in minutes, pointing out the most serious problems, so that we can make those a priority for our remediation efforts.

How it’s designed

The software works in a similar manner to a search engine. It scans a Web site behind the scenes, reading the code, looking for certain words, phrases and structures. If it doesn’t find what it’s looking for, it issues a warning or a failure notice. If it does, it gives the site a passing grade for that item. Compliance Sheriff issues a report for each scan, pointing out precisely where the problems are and providing links to explain why something is a problem and how to fix it.

We are meeting individually with all site owners and editors to set them up with access to view the scans and reports. These meetings give us a chance to address any specific questions they may have about their sites.  A bonus is that editors can see the scans of all other sites as well, so they can get an idea of just where they stack up compared to others.

No mystery involved

Web Accessibility is not a mystery and it’s easy to incorporate the steps needed to make a site compliant. It just requires awareness and a little knowledge, both of which we are helping to provide. We continue to post tips for content editors on our Web Accessibility site, we run awareness sessions which are open to everyone, we provide support in creating accessible documents, and we meet with site owners and content editors to help in bringing their sites into compliance.

Beginning last October, a Web Accessibility Partner of the Week, and a Partner of the Month, were recognized. These are departments or individuals who have indicated special interest or have done outstanding work in bringing a Web site into compliance. Often, the Partners solved problems faced by other sites.

Here are the most recent honorees: