In part three of this series on Making Learning Accessible, we take a look at what you need to do to make your web content accessible. Today’s post focuses on the tools used for content delivery and what to do if you’re not a software/web developer.

Do you manage your own content through someone else’s software?

Awesome, start with UC Berkely’s ten tips on web accessibility here. Your goal is two-fold:

  1. Make sure the software you use is designed with accessibility in mind.
  2. Make sure you setup your content to be accessible.

How do I make sure my software is accessible?

First, ask. Check with your helpdesk, IT team, site administrator, or the vendor to see if the software meets Section 508 accessibility requirements. If you are the Site Administrator, see if your vendor has a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) completed for the release of the software you use. The VPAT requires the vendor to explain what parts of the software don’t meet Section 508 requirements, what workarounds exist, and if they are working on a fix.

If you can’t get a clear answer, you can do some testing on your own. There are tons of free resources and tools out there to help. A good place to start is to run an accessibility scan of your site. There are lots of free accessibility scanners available that will give results for free like this open source accessibility scanner. You input your URL, run the scan and will receive a report with any issues that can be corrected technically. Some of the items the scan will check for include:

  • Are headings (H1, H2,…) defined as such in the site display so that a screen reader user can quickly skip through sections and find what they care about? Are there missing headings? Does a user have to go through the full site top to bottom and listen to every single word to navigate your site?
  • Do all images that provide context within your content have alternative descriptions (A.K.A. alt text) that help someone who can’t see an image to understand what it shows and what context, if any, it provides?
  • Are tables used inappropriately to format the site layout instead of displaying data?
  • And a whole lot more. If you’re not in the U.S., have a look at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)  Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

If you find issues with the site accessibility, talk to your administrators, helpdesk, and/or the vendor to get those issues corrected. Once issues are corrected, then it’s up to you as a content creator to use those tools appropriately.

In the next post, we’ll talk about making content that is accessible.

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