Web Content Accessibility

The Law

Section 508 (508 statute php , 508 statute pdf) requires that Federal agencies’ electronic and information technology is accessible to people with disabilities, including employees and members of the public.

Section 508 establishes requirements for any electronic and information technology developed, maintained, procured, or used by the Federal government. The term “electronic and information technology” has been defined by the Access Board in regulations published December 21, 2000. Section 508 exempts national security systems from its requirements.

Information regarding all aspects of assistive technologies and accessibility under Section 508 is available at the federal government’s official website, http://www.section508.gov/.

Accessibility of Online Materials

Did you know that simply by putting course materials online, they aren’t automatically accessible to all students? Links to scanned PDFs often show up as a “photo”. None of the words can be detected by text-to-speech software. However, a speedy process called Optical Character Recognition in Adobe Acrobat can convert the “photo” to recognized letters and words.

Did you know that when a resource is photocopied or scanned and it is either at a slant on the page, or there is shadow obscuring the text at the margins, or there are underlinings or highlights that the scanned PDF can be complete unreadable?

Please contact Laura Knobel-Piehl at knobel@stolaf.edu if you would like additional help making your online content accessible. I’m here to help you prepare your materials for access to ALL of your students!

pdf_icon Intro to PDFs/Creating Accessible PDFs

word_icon Adding Styles to Microsoft Word Documents

powerpoint_icon Creating Accessible Microsoft PowerPoint Presentations


Internet Resources

WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind: http://www.webaim.org). Perhaps the best site for
tutorials and free information about creating accessible web pages. They frequently conduct
free, on-line training sessions. Highly recommended.

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI: www.w3c.org/wai) provides detailed guidelines for
creating accessible web pages. HTML knowledge is required.

◆ Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/) covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web content more accessible. Following these guidelines will make content accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities, including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity and combinations of these. Following these guidelines will also often make your Web content more usable to users in general.”