The purpose of this service is to assist Penn State Web sites in meeting compliance with current federal, state and local laws utilizing current standards: the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, 2.0 recommendations. Pursuant to the revised Web Accessibility Policy AD -69, the Accessible Information Technology Committee (AIT) has implemented the HiSoftware Compliance Sheriff tool as a service to provide a University-wide web evaluation and remediation.The rollout of this service meets one of the critical deadline as specified in the agreement with the NFB:
The University shall complete an accessibility audit of its electronic and information technologies ("EITs") no later than February 15, 2012 that will examine the accessibility and usability of the EITs provided by the University to students, prospective students, staff and faculty who are blind.
For the users of the HiSoftware scanning tool, EITs refers to public-facing websites, login protected websites that are core to the missions of the University, and web applications. However, any site, including all login-protected sites, must be made accessible if a request to access information is made by a user.
Why be accessible?
The United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights addresses the issue appropriately:
Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
Excluding segments of the audience is contradictory to the nature and intent of a free and open society. However, increased access to information should be considered an altrustic endeavor inherent to all University principles.
Creating and maintaining accessible websites is good for institutional business and establishes opportunities to provide access to all individuals with or without disabilities at Penn State University. A more accessible Web presence will raise Penn State’s profile on the Web and have a direct and positive impact on efforts such as student recruiting, donor giving, and access to materials on the Web for all constituents of Penn State, including those with disabilities.
A better understanding of assistive adaptive technologies will also empower your developers to think differently as they realize the challenges that exist in the accessibility space. They will begin to reassess how they design, program, and write for the web and reconsider decisions on color usage, image placement, page formatting, and table layout. With this heightened level of knowledge, your developers will more often be mindful of the overall usability of your site, which will in turn improve your overall web presence.
These training courses meet another critical deadline as specified in the agreement with the NFB:
No later than August 15, 2012, the University shall conduct training, instruction and support at all levels about the University's EIT Accessibility Policy and procedures and shall list the tools and techniques that are available for faculty and staff to comply with the Policy and procedures so that the University's Accessibility Policy and procedures are effectively and consistently implemented.
The ATI Committee along with the Web Liaisons will review the reports, may provide individualized feedback to each University Budget Executive through the Web Liaison, provide guidance on accomplishing the set strategic plan goals, develop ongoing rubrics for completion of the 3 year strategic plan and will establish a continued framework for measuring the progress of the strategic plan and agreement with NFB. These efforts will help the university meet the October 14, 2014 deadline.