2004 Conference Proceedings

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Dawn Hunziker
Assistive Technology Coordinator
Disability Resource Center
University of Arizona
1540 E. 2nd St.
P.O. Box 21006
Tucson, AZ 85721
Phone: 520-626-9409
Email: hunziker@email.arizona.edu

Implementing campus-wide Website accessibility guidelines is a challenge many universities and colleges are currently facing. How do you educate a community of Web designers with varying degrees of computer and Web design knowledge? What is the best method for notifying all the designers of new Website development guidelines and standards? How are Websites monitored to ensure accessibility? In response to these questions, The University of Arizona (UA) designed a Web accessibility implementation plan that addresses both Website development guidelines and continuing education for Website designers. The presenter will share the process used by the UA to implement this plan as a model for other institutions facing similar challenges.

Background Information:
The University of Arizona (UA) has a decentralized computing environment in which departments have varying degrees of technical support. The UA Web development structure is similarly decentralized, with only the main UA Web pages controlled centrally. Some departmental Website designers are experts, while others are students hired simply to give the department a Web presence or administrative staff who just happen to have had some experience with a Web authoring tool. This varying level of knowledge of Web designers and the University's decentralized approach to its Website made the prospect of assuring standardization and accessibility a challenge.

The UA is a Research I institution with an enrollment of over 37,000 students and an employee base of over 15,000. The Disability Resource Center on campus serves over 1,500 students and employees with disabilities each year. Given these numbers and the institution's increasing reliance on its Website to deliver information and services, it was imperative that we design a plan to ensure Website accessibility for all users. By prioritizing this effort and developing the UA Web Accessibility Implementation Plan, the University "has taken considerable strides toward overall usability of the campus Web and toward the specific issue of Web accessibility for computer users with disabilities" (Metcalfe 195).

The proposed presentation will highlight the process used to increase awareness of Website accessibility standards at the University of Arizona. In sharing the barriers we faced and our successes, we will model a process that can be used by other colleges and universities in their efforts to increase Website accessibility. The following is an outline of the topics to be discussed during the session:

  1. The beginning of the UA Web Accessibility Implementation Plan
    1. April 2001 - A visit by the WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind) Staff to inform the campus about new Web accessibility information / initiatives
    2. Meeting between WebAIM Staff and key University departments to discuss how to set up guidelines for campus Web accessibility

  2. Enacting UA Web Accessibility Implementation Plan
    1. Conducted a Baseline Study regarding initial University of Arizona Website accessibility
    2. Workshops designed to increase awareness
    3. Designed Resource Website that includes the following topics:
      • Why Accessible? (includes references to UA guidelines regarding access to information and references to federal regulations)
      • Making your Site Accessible (includes a tutorial, testing tools and examples of Websites that have received a "makeover")
      • UA Accessible Websites (includes information on acquiring a UA Accessible Icon and certificate and a request form to have your site checked for accessibility)
      • Help and Support Services (who to contact for assistance or to report a Website that is inaccessible)
      • About the Accessibility Project

  3. Continuing Implementation of Web Accessibility on the UA campus
    1. Hands-on Workshops
    2. Purchase of HiSoftware products to assist in validation of Websites (AccMonitor, AccRepair, and HiCaption)
    3. Campus Memos, Announcements, and Advertisements

  4. Discuss barriers / difficulties to achieving 100% accessibility


[1] Metcalfe, Amy (2003). "Overcoming Organizational Barriers to Web Accessibility in Higher Education: A Case Study." In Hricko, Mary (Ed.), Design and Implementation of Web-Enabled Teaching Tools, 190-207. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Publishing.

Internet References:

[2] Hisoftware: http://www.hisoftware.com

[3] University of Arizona Website Accessibility: http://uaweb.arizona.edu/resources/

[4] WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind): http://www.webaim.org

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