Michigan Tech is in the process of developing a comprehensive policy and guidelines regarding the accessibility of information and technology.
Web Usability and Accessibility
Michigan Tech addresses web accessibility and usability together as websites are developed as guidelines, approaches, and end goals overlap significantly. Standards and best practices continually change, making this an ongoing effort.
Web usability centers around ease of use. A 'usable' website presents information and choices in a clear and concise way, eliminates ambiguity, represents elements in a consistent manner, and highlights the most important and commonly used information in easy-to-access places.
Usability is especially key in instances when websites render on devices with touch screens. It is important to take into account font, link, and tap target sizes that are large enough for a human finger to access easily. It is also important to control content layout, ensure that clickable items appear as such, and make sure that technology that is not mobile-friendly, such as Flash, is not used to display important information.
Through the use of a central content management system (CMS), Michigan Tech is able to standardize common web elements and promote usable design and code.
Web accessibility refers to the practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to websites, by people with disabilities. When sites are correctly designed, coded, and maintained, all users have equal access to key information and functionality.
The overall design and structure of Michigan Tech's webpages are controlled through our CMS. We lay out page structures using HTML5 semantic markup, meaning that webpages render in a way that gives meaning to the content itself, and not on how it looks in a browser.
This approach makes the framework of our websites accessible to users with screen readers, text-based browsers, and other assistive devices. Their readers can distinguish what is the primary content (including headings, paragraphs, and links), navigation, headers, footers, and general asides.
Because our code follows proper semantics, our websites are able to meet WCAG 2.0 Level A conformance. W3C notes that is not recommended that Level AAA conformance be required as a general policy for entire sites because it is not possible to satisfy Level AAA success criteria for some content. As such, we begin with Level A conformance and strive to meet Level AA and/or AAA conformance for as many of our standardized web elements as possible.
Our web users with disabilities are able to use the tool(s) of their choice to browser our websites, ranging from desktop programs to online services to browser add-ons. We feel that this freedom is the best way to provide an inclusive web experience.
If you experience any web usability or accessibility issues or have suggestions for improvements, please contact Michigan Tech's Digital Services team at firstname.lastname@example.org.