An estimated 20% of the population has some type of disability that impacts major life activities. As more Extension information and services are provide electronically, it is important that websites, tools, and technologies are designed so people with disabilities have access to them.
Extension’s Accessibility Responsibilities
Title II of the ADA says Extension cannot discriminate against people with disabilities in access to services, programs, and activities. Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act says that people with disabilities “cannot be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Section 508 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act requires Federal agencies and organizations receiving Federal funds to make electronic information and information technology accessible for people with disabilities.
One way people with disabilities interact with web contact is using screen readers. If you have never seen a screen reader in action, a video demo for digital accessibility has been created by the University of California San Francisco to show how screen readers are used to make content accessible to persons who are blind or have visual impairments. Have you ever wondered what it is like to be color blind? The way you use color in documents, graphics and webpages can impact a persons ability to understand what you are trying to convey. The Color Blindness Simulator provides a view of the world through the eyes of someone who is colorblind. Captions are text versions of the spoken word presented within multimedia. Captions allow the content of web audio and video to be accessible to those who do not have access to audio due to auditory disabilities. Watch this video to see why captions are so important. For more information on persons with disabilities and IT accessibility visit the Web Accessibility Initiative.
Is it Accessible?
How well can you recognize if content is accessible or not? Test your knowledge by going to the Accessible University Demo Site developed by the University of Washington and and try to identify the 18 accessibility issues on the page. Don’t worry there is a cheat sheet and an answer key.
Learning about Accessibility
It is strongly recommended that all Extension employees complete the Accessibility in the Classroom Course, a six-week self-paced online course available to all faculty and staff within the University of North Carolina (UNC) System for free. The course provides an introduction to digital accessibility and offers multiple practical methods for incorporating accessibility into face-to-face, hybrid online and online classrooms.
Other available resources available to Extension employees include the Quick Course Content Checklist, a list of simple techniques you can use to make your content more accessible. When creating course content, include these simple accessibility features to increase usability for your materials.
Extension employees should consult the IT Accessibility Quick Guide when you create educational and other electronic material. This quick guide is designed to provide a high-level understanding of how to use different types of campus technologies and ensure your content is accessible.
Microsoft Office has several tools to help you create accessible documents. This short video will introduce you to some of the Word tools. This topic support site gives you step-by-step instructions to make your Word documents accessible. To create accessible PDFs and check the accessibility of existing PDFs to meet common accessibility standards, Adobe provides instructions on creating and verifying accessibility within their user guide.
NC State has a series of training videos available covering IT accessibility testing tools, techniques, and concepts.
Advanced Accessibility Resources
Advanced accessibility information for web designers and developers is also available. The IT Accessibility Handbook provides web developers with guides on creating accessible Web sites. The Accessibility Scanner provides automated reviews of websites and pages. The Teach Access Tutorial provides interactive online accessibility training for designers and developers. Accessibility workshops for IT developers and staff are offered through Office of Information Technology training, To view current workshops, visit OIT Workshops.
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