Web Accessibility at VCU
This notice was published on September 14th, 2017, but has since been updated to ensure all information and linked resources are relevant and accurate.
All VCU websites and web content must be accessible with a priority on public facing organizational sites listed in the VCU A-Z index. All VCU websites must be compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA.
How This Affects You
You are being asked to review your websites and remediate any accessibility errors by the end of September. Details on how to proceed follow at the end of this notice.
Federal law requires colleges and universities ensure programs and online content is accessible to all users including those with disabilities. Accessibility is also critical to VCU’s academic mission of inclusivity.
If an individual with a disability cannot access a university’s public facing websites or any content on those websites, the university risks investigation by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights or a discrimination lawsuit for violation of federal disability law, including Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA is required by Section 508.
How to Proceed
Start by reading the requirement documentation under the Accessibility (2) requirement category.
The web standards site lists specific requirements and provides an accessibility checklist. The site also provides procedures on how to check for accessibility and how to access governance tools (SiteImprove) to scan your pages.
You should remediate your site’s homepage first then move on to secondary web pages within your site. If you cannot complete the entire website remediation by September 30, then complete the web policy exception form through the Web Policy app. Select the component “Accessibility”. Be sure to include expected completion date, number of pages not remediated, and any special cases or requests for technical assistance.
Special attention should be paid to websites that reference PDFs or other types of media (images, videos). PDFs posted on university websites need to be accessible.
As you evaluate your website’s accessibility, you may find that simplification is easy and cost effective. If it is not worth your time, effort, or cost to render any particular web content accessible by VCU standards, it is likely not essential to delivery of your program, and you may find that removing it from your public-facing website is a practical solution.
Once you have determined that your website is accessible, you must maintain its accessibility as well as the accessibility of new content. As technical requirements change with the development of new technology, it is a good idea to check the VCU web standards anytime you are making updates to your website.
Where to Go for Help
Siteimprove Academy: An online video module for “Web Accessibility Fundamentals” is available to users with Siteimprove accounts through the Siteimprove Academy. This online video module takes about an hour to complete and includes introductory information for technical and non-technical users. Topics include: understanding disabilities, international guidelines, legal implications and assistive technologies.
Web Users Group Listserv: Technical website contacts are encouraged to reach out to other webmasters via the Web Users Group Listserv to enlist help remediating common issues. You can signup through our Listserv app.