ITS Training

Frequently Asked Questions

Confused about Standards, Guidelines, and Principles of Accessible Design?

In the United States, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that Federal agencies' electronic and information technology is accessible to people with disabilities. Sub part B - Technical Standards - § 1194.22, specifically deals with Web-based intranet and internet information and applications and is considered to be the minimum standards for Web Content.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community that develops standards to ensure the long-term growth of the Web. Their Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG v.2.0) are usually considered in tandem with Section 508 Standards when creating policies concerning Web Accessibility.

Principles of Accessible and Universal Web Design have developed from the concept of Universal Design and pertain to the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. Universally designed Web content is: equitable, flexible, simple and intuitive, perceptible, minimizes error, easy to use and has redundancy.

Web Usability measures the quality of a user's experience within a Web site. The principles of Web usability are based on over-all satisfaction with the browsing experience.

Because the delivery of digital or Web-based information is fundamental to a university’s mission to promote learning, discovery and engagement, the Web Accessibility Checklist includes concepts from all: Section 508 Standards, WCAG v.2.0 Guidelines, Universal Design, and Web Usability.

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What is the Web Accessibility Checklist?

The IPFW Web Accessibility Checklist is intended as a guide for Web Authors. It prioritizes key items to check in all Web content to ensure accessibility according to the Section 508 Standards and IPFW's Web Accessibility Policy.

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 Are Web Publishers responsible for all items on the Web Accessibility Checklist? 

Some of the checklist items have been designated as obsolete and not to be used for Web Content: flickering content, frames, client-side and server-side image maps.

Other items will be or have been handled on a system-wide level through changes to templates, dotCMS, or CSS styles:  CSS based image maps, skip links, use of <strong> and <em> instead of <bold> and <italic>, timing related to meta refresh/scripts/banners.

IT Services Web Accessibility Training offers support for Web Authors on checklist items that are included as part of their responsibilities to provide Web accessible content. Web Authors have additional responsibilities beyond those items covered by the checklist. These are explained by the Office of Institutional Equity as outlined in Web Accessibility Responsibilities.

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Don't  panic about Multimedia.

Multimedia includes a wide range of Web content: video, audio, flash, iTunes, YouTube, streaming, podcasts, etc. It is a complex issue. IPFW has a large number of legacy Web pages that fall into this category. Web Authors continue to create multimedia content, often to enrich or to provide course content. Currently, departments are only being asked to report any multimedia content that they maintain on their Web pages to the Office of Institutional Equity as listed on the Reporting Form. This information will aid in determining the most effective method of creating accessible multimedia content without undue burden to those departments and individuals using multimedia.

For those interested in how they can begin

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What is a Friendly Name?

The text that appears on the title bar of any web page is the friendly name.


The friendly name should not be overlooked when creating a Web page. Search engines use the friendly name as a means of indexing Web pages. A well crafted friendly name is essential to making the Web page accessible.

Follow IPFW's naming convention for friendly name: department or group - page title or page description

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What is a Heading?

Headings are titles and subtitles that are seen when viewing text. Screen readers and other assistive technology use the structure of Web page content and headings to make the content more meaningful. The structure of Web pages should be hierarchical. Think about how we use an outline to organize a college paper or essay. Our Web pages make use of Headings 1 through 6.

  • A Heading 1 <h1> is used for page titles and is created in Page Properties
  • Heading 2 <2> through Heading 6 <h6> are used when creating the content on the page(contentlets)
  • Heading 2 <2> through Heading 3 <h3> would be used for major section headings
  • Heading 4  <4> - Heading 6 <h6> would be used for sub-sections of the <h2> or <h3>, and so on.

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What is Alternative Text?

Alternative text (alt text) is the text that is displayed instead of images on websites. A visually impaired reader who is using a screen reader will hear the alt text in place of the image. A text browser will display the alt text instead of the image.

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What is Metadata? 

Metadata is information about a Web page that search engines use to help rank the page in search results. It is important to enter metadata for each page to help visitors find a Web page. Metadata must be included for Web page description and keywords for all pages intended for public viewing.

Metadata (description): A sentence describing what the web page is about.

Metadata (Keywords): A list of possible keywords that users would enter in the search bar to look for that particular page.

Step by step instructions for metadata are available in the Web Accessibility how-to's.

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What is the difference between a layout table and a data table?

A table uses rows and columns to organize content visually on the screen.

  • In a layout table, the table's main purpose is to position content and text on the Web page. Positioning of content in one cell of a layout table does not mean that a relationship exists to any of the content in other cells as it does in a data table
  • Avoid using tables for layout purposes only.
  • In a data table, the table is used to organize information so that it is easier to see relationships. Everyone benefits when labels are used for rows and columns to explain what the information means. A good data table has column headers, row headers, a caption (title), and a summary.
  • Whenever possible, use an ordered (numbered) or unordered (bulleted) list instead of a data table. Lists are easier to read and very accessible.
  • There are two kinds of data tables: simple, complex. A simple data table is more accessible than a complex table as it is easier for screen readers to move through the data in a logical manner.
  • Assistive devices must be able to determine what the table is about and then be able to read it in a logical order, so that the intended meaning is clear.

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What is an image map?

An image map is an image that has been divided into regions with associated actions. Clicking on an active region causes an action to occur.

  • Clicking on an active region of a client-side image map, the user agent calculates in which region the click occurred and follows the link associated with that region.
  • Clicking on an active region of a server-side image map causes the coordinates of the click to be sent to a server, which then performs some action.
  • Web publishers should not use either client-side image maps or server-side image maps
  • All image maps  should be CSS-based image maps
  • Avoid using image maps unless they can be created using CSS

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What is keyboard accessible content and why is it important?

Those who cannot use a mouse may be able to use a keyboard. For those who cannot use a keyboard, assistive devices mimic the functionality of a keyboard in one way or another.

In its simplest form, keyboard accessible content progresses in a logical order when the Tab key is used to tab through content.

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What are Adaptive Technologies?

 These are assistive, rehabilitative devices or methods that promote greater independence for individuals with disabilities by changing how these individuals interact with technology.  Adaptive technologies assist with information access. Screen-reading software, which can read aloud for the user the details of material displayed on a monitor, is one such example of assistive technology.

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What are plugins?

Plugins are software pieces that add a specific feature or service to a larger system. For example, in order to view a PDF file, the Adobe Acrobat Reader® plugin is required. When information is made available to users and requires a plugin to make it accessible, a link to downloading that plugin should be provided.

For some plugins, the question of accessibility is more complex. For instance, Web content that uses Java or Flash. Section 508 says that a text equivalent non-text element shall be provided. Providing alternative text for images or a long description for a chart is much easier than providing text equivalents for some plugins. University Relations will consider plugins on a case by case basis. If you currently use or plan to use a Java or Flash plugin in your site, contact University Relations for more information.

What are widgets?

Widgets are small programs that can be put into Web content. Some commonly used and well recognized widgets are: Find us on Facebook widget, live stream widgets, upcoming events widget, user status widget. Widgets will be handled on a case by case basis by University Relations. If you currently use or plan to use a widget in your site, contact University Relations for more information.

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What is a Skip Link?

 Some assistive technologies need to present the content of the web page in a linear fashion.  This makes it difficult or impossible for the end user of these technologies to skip around the page.  If the navigation links are at the top or left of all of the pages in a site the user of these assistive technologies would need to read or listen to, all of the navigation links each time a new page is loaded.  Experienced users of the assistive technology find reading through all of these repeated links aggravating.  Users who are newer to the assistive technology frequently become confused about whether the contents of the page are even changing when a link is selected.

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What is timed or flickering Web content?


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