Accessibility at ISU: The "What" and "Why" of Accessibility - Digital Accessibility

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So from the real to the virtual, what is digital accessibility? And you may notice here a change of language, because rather than talking about Web, I'm talking about digital to put it in a broader context. It's a broader scope, because many of the things that we talk about or we work on, many of the things that we start as a document, for instance, in Word, might end up in the Web. So digital content in general should be taken into account. 

Going back to the ramp, when you think about accessibility in the real world, you think about the ramp, right? You think about the curb cuts, you think about the things that are very popular in terms of architecture. Web accessibility is that for the Web, for digital content. Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the Web, but it's also good for persons with disabilities and that is the definition of the World Wide Web Consortium, the W3C, which is the organization that was founded by Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the HTML, which is what the Web is based off of, right? 

So you see the slide where you see captions, right? This is a scene from a retro movie, to put it somehow, it's called "Blade Runner." And you may think that I'm either a geek or old as heck as a result, but anyways, the point is that the captions are there as a result of a settlement between Netflix and National Association for the Deaf, Department of Justice, and Office of Civil Rights. That basically what establishes that the Web is a place of public accommodation, and as so, we need to, or Netflix in this case, needed to provide the same access to persons who might be deaf. So that's why they had to provide captions, and nowadays, I benefit from those captions because me not being an English native speaker, I do use captions. And I can hear less and less every day, so I benefit from those as well. 

So some of the things, when I define Web accessibility or digital accessibility, rather, when I talk to people, the first thing they ask me is what to do. They're more than willing at Iowa State and anywhere I go, people are really willing to do whatever it takes to do this. And what do we do? There are very, very quick things that we can take care of in Word documents, in e-mail. We don't need to be Web developers, right, Jeff to do things in an accessible way. 

So the things that I have pointed out to in the website, there are five, at least five things that we can do really quickly and take care of. I've called it the "Do It Yourself." And this website is gonna change in a little while, but just now, we have this information out there so that whenever you're interested in knowing how to implement accessibility in your documents, in your e-mail, in your websites, you're able to do so. And these are five things that you can take care of really easily. 

Alternate text, which is if you have an image, if you have an element that is not textual, you have to have an alternate text for that element in the document, in the content. 

The color needs to be high contrast and needs to take into account persons who might be color blind. So you have to check for that. 

Link text refers to, you may have seen a million links that say, "Click here," or "More here." That doesn't tell you anything. As a user, who can see, that's kind of confusing. A person who uses a screen reader and reads through a number of links that are listed by his screen reader, with the same text, doesn't know where he's going if he clicks that link. So link text needs to explain what it stands for. 

The structure refers to having headings, the appropriate type of headings in your document. You can see it in this Web page. You have a heading, what they call heading one, two. I have a heading one for things that are the main topic and then subtopics are headings that are lesser subtopics, related to subtopics. 

And then you also have considerations for forms and table headers. And you have information here about how to check your document. I'm not gonna go into it in detail because we have scheduled sessions already to go through these more in detail. And you could also resort to the website. 

So the official standards, like Maureen already said, is the Web content accessibility guidelines. If you wanna go through it, it's an extents document, it's very comprehensive. My recommendation to you is to start prioritizing. There are things like alternate text that you can do automatically while you're creating a document and they don't take that much effort. But these are the extents and the guidelines that the university has adopted as of now, or as of sometime already. And this is the address or the URL for my, for the website, for the digital access website. It's already up, like I said, it's gonna change into a more, I guess, graphic-oriented version in the next couple weeks, which is gonna look more like this. It's all about providing training and resources and how to do it yourself so that you can get that information and be able to work on it on your own. 

So the question is Web accessibility is the creation of websites that are accessible to person with disabilities, yes or no? And I don't, I'm gonna say it's kind of like a trick question, too. And let's look at the answers. Web accessibility is the creation of websites that are accessible to persons with disabilities and we have kind of three-quarters yes. Originally, you could say so. You could argue that Web accessibility is about making the Web accessible, but like I said, I have expanded or there's a trend in the accessibility community to expanding the concept to embrace digital content. So now you hear more and more digital accessibility, rather.