Aaron Lopez

Have your POURed enough into your website?


Every organization strives for excellence, and for educational institutions this means providing the best learning environment for each and every learner. We know that providing a supportive experience for your learners is at the forefront of everything you do, but does your website also live up to your standards?


Information you need to know about website accessibility


Creating a true first impression

First impressions count, and your website gives prospective students all the information they need to know before deciding if they would like to study with you. It is important that your content is accessible, so that your welcoming messages are delivered to every single one of your online visitors. Just as you would make adjustments to physical accessibility, the same should be done within your digital presence, to ensure that your content is equally accessible to individuals with learning or cognitive difficulties.


Being inclusive creates a brighter future, for everyone

1 in 10 people have neurodiverse traits, such as dyslexia, ADHD and aspergers, and this means that content is accessed and processed in various different ways. Making sure your web content can be accessed using assistive technologies such as computer readers and screen magnifiers, can help remove some of the barriers neurodiverse students face in accessing higher education.
 

Student at computer
 

It can also mean you are one step ahead with legal compliance - equality initiatives protect individuals from barriers they would otherwise face in everyday life. Whilst the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act don't yet stipulate digital access specifically, our increasingly digital world is calling for updates in law compliance, so being digitally inclusive should be on everybody’s mind.

An accessible website also helps to attract a wider and more diverse student body, including international students who are considering studying in the US, but where English is not their native language. This market accounts for over 1 million students each year across HigherEd institutions, and generates $42.4 billion to the US economy.

 

So what can you do to become more accessible?

Web accessibility standards exist to help organizations become more inclusive. Existing guidelines such as WCAG 2.1 utilize the POUR guidelines, which outline what it means for a website to be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust - in other words, accessible. Accessible websites allow assistive screen readers to read content, so that all site visitors can access content in a way that suits their needs.

Using the POUR guidelines, we have identified some actions you could take to kickstart your efforts and help you on your way to welcoming a diverse student body. In addition, our digital inclusion software, Browsealoud, can be simply added to your website to offer an on site screen reader for the convenience of users.


P - Perceivable

Perceivable

Every element of every website should be discoverable. This means that content should be transformable between formats i.e. images to text, text to audio etc. so that those with visual impairments, hearing limitations and cognitive disorders can perceive it too.
 

Your Action Our Solution
Use metadata to provide text alternatives to images Browsealoud reads alt-tags behind images, to provide oral description to the visually impaired
Minimise visual overload Simplify feature removes distracting content, so users can focus on what’s important
Ensure downloadable content is accessible too MP3 generator converts text to audio files for offline listening


O - Operable
Operable

Students with limited movement or tremors may use adaptive devices instead of a keyboard and mouse to access web content.

 
Your Action Our Solution
Optimize web code to ensure that all functionality is available from a keyboard Browsealoud is fully keyboard accessible
Help users to navigate and find content by using headings, sub-headings and paragraphs to split up content

Dual colour highlighting shows users where they are on the page & a screen mask helps users to create a focal point

Do not use content that causes seizures

A screen mask can be applied to ‘dim’ the screen & a simplify mode removes distracting content


U - Understandable
Understandable

Content that someone can access is not necessarily accessible. The language used can impact whether or not a user can understand the information.
 

Your Action Our Solution
Give users enough time to read and use content Audio speed and voice can be changed to suit user needs
Ensure text is readable Magnifier feature enlarges text size specified by the user
Use language that can be understood by all site visitors Translate option with 99 languages
Be transparent, so visitors understand what actions to take on the site

Browsealoud communicates content to the user as long as alt-tags are in place. Hyperlink feature announces links to the user when content is read aloud

Help users to avoid and correct mistakes Audio feature reads text aloud, including information typed into forms, so visitors can identify spelling mistakes
 

R - Robust
Robust

Each individual accesses the web using technology which suits their needs and preferences. This includes different devices and browsers.
 

Your Action Our Solution
Optimize your website for use with assistive technologies The actions on this checklist will help your website to be accessed by screen readers such as Browsealoud
Maximize compatibility with current and future user tools

Browsealoud works across all common browsers and platforms, and is regularly updated. Browsealoud services are hosted on Amazon, to ensure its features are agile, robust and resilient

 

If you would like more information about how technology can reduce barriers to online content, contact our accessibility experts for a no obligation consultation.

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