Digital Accessibility at UCSF

From Policy to Accessibility

UC policy and US law require our web delivered services and content be accessible by people with disabilities.

The University is committed to supporting an IT environment that is accessible to all and enhances usability for everyone, including individuals with disabilities. As a public institution, UCSF is also legally bound to comply with California state, federal, and other related digital accessibility laws and regulations.

At the heart of the UCSF accessibility statement is the concept that accessible websites benefit every site visitor with well-designed, easy-to-navigate sites. 

Accessibility Governing Policies and UCSF Standards

UCSF seeks to develop accessible websites and web applications to be in compliance with the following state, federal and University of California policies:

One: Understand the Need

Get familiar with the concepts of alternative perception. Interact with your site with the color grayed out, mouse-less or even with your eyes closed. Take these impressions into consideration in your planning, building, and testing. 

Two: Plan Accessibility Along with Content Creation

Videos – save scripts and notes for the captioning

Forms – Layout so title and field are perceivable from phone to assistive technology

Images – Provide text alternatives

Color – Maintains a 4.5 contrast ratio to backgrounds

Links – Do they make sense alone and go where expected?

Embedded Media – Provide user controls

Tables – never for layout and always label elements

Three: Test with WCAG 2.0 Guidelines

UCSF follows Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are the internationally recognized and approved standard and meet the ADA requirements. There are 25 Guidelines to level AA, organized by the four principals of Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust.

Meeting each guideline is being able to say yes to the “Success Criteria”. For example: Is there a way to get in and out of every component of the page (e.g. widget or control) using only the keyboard? Yes/No, Pass/Fail

We All Benefit From Accessibility

So many of the communication features you take advantage of were created for people with disabilities: the telephone, voice recognition, autocomplete, spell check, pinch-and-zoom, text-to-speech and so on.

The effort you put in today, will ensure future compatibility, improve search results and help you out when you forget your glasses.

The Spectrum of Ability

Visual: Blind, low-vision, color-blind, forgotten reading glasses

Hearing: Deafness, hard-of-hearing, limited range hearing, no earbuds

Cognitive: Learning disabilities, distractibility, tired

Motor: Slower response time, limited fine motor control, on a bumpy shuttle

Being on a bumpy shuttle or not having your earbuds or glasses – those are disabilities? you may question. Disabilities can be permanent, temporary or situational. It really does not matter why you may need to zoom-in or read captions, what matters is that it is always possible.

By providing for the far reaches of accessibility you also include every situation in-between and then some.

Not Just Websites

The principles of WCAG 2.0 AA apply to all digital communications and tools: emails, documents, online learning environments, apps anything that a person with disabilities would need to access. Pay attention to what elements you use such as links, images, hierarchy, etc. and be aware of its accessibility.

Accessibility vs. Accommodation

There is a difference between accessibility and accommodation, they are not the same. For example, captions and transcripts are accessibility requirements, not accommodations. 

Accessibility is on ongoing process, not a discrete feature of a website or web application.

  • Accessibility is for populations and is proactive.
  • Accommodations are for individuals and are reactive
  • Accessibility is the goal and accommodations are just tools to reach that goal

A great resource is from a July 2020 3Play Media webinar about online learning. Here is a link to the transcript where you can do a keyword search to find the section that begins with “So the first challenge, accessibility or accommodation?”

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