Mid- 2018 Update

The Emerging Technology and Accessibility team, now part of UA’s Faculty Resource Center (FRC), housed in the Office of Information Technology (OIT), continues to lead the initiative to provide our technology users, including those with disabilities, a functional and accessible technology experience with our web presence and our instructional and emerging technologies. An annual audit of campus college and division web sites reflects that many campus areas continue to improve in their accessibility status.

2017-2018 efforts include:

  • Working with campus stakeholders to develop a Web Resources Accessibility Policy that would adopt WCAG 2.0 AA to address the accessibility of public-facing web resources, campus-wide web resources, and web resources needed to conduct core University administrative and academic functions, including third-party tools and equal access and non-compliance plans.
  • Establishing technology accessibility liaisons for each college, school, and division. Appointed by campus deans and vice presidents, these liaisons serve as the area contact to address technology needs related to accessibility.
  • Compiling and distributing to liaisons the most complete and accurate list of UA web sites to date.
  • Acquiring and rolling out campus wide the Texthelp suite of literacy support tools. Texthelp tools freely available to all UA students, faculty and staff on campus and personal machines include Read&Write, a literacy support solution with tools for reading, writing, research and studying; EquatIO, an application you can use to type, handwrite or speak to create equations, formulas, and other math and chemistry expressions; and Snapverter, an easy to use add-on for Read&Write for Google Chrome and iOS app that transforms papers and files into readable PDF documents.
  • Assuming management of campus licensing for ZoomText, a screen magnification and reading program that enables users with low vision to see, hear, and use everything on the computer screen
  • Captioning and/or transcribing over 4000 minutes of media through UA captioning grants. Captioning grants may be used to and/or transcribe UA-owned video and audio that will be shared on public or campus-wide websites.
  • Offering new workshops covering accessibility best practices for various media as well as diversity in learners and learning style and how accessibility barriers affect users with diversity of ability.
  • Adding staff member Melissa Green. Melissa is a Technology Accessibility Specialist dedicated to technology accessibility training needs.
  • Resolving 255 tickets in the Helpspot customer service/support ticket system.
  • Running 3246 Accessibility Management Platform reports. Accessibility Management Platform (AMP) is a comprehensive accessibility and reporting tool freely available to members of the UA community.


Mid- 2017 Update

The University of Alabama’s technology accessibility initiative is proceeding with regard to public-facing and campus-wide web resources. An annual audit of campus college and division web sites reflects that many campus areas have improved in their accessibility status. The University’s Office of Strategic Communications continues to build accessibility into institutional web themes and templates to improve the accessibility of public-facing UA sites. Other areas where planning and progress continue include technology accessibility governance and training, including vendor and third party products, documents, and instructional technology. 2016-2017 successes include the Emerging Technology and Accessibility (ETA) team’s successful rollout of the Level Access (formerly SSB Bart Group) Accessibility Management Platform (AMP) to evaluate UA web resources and the continued growth in the use of UA captioning grants. WebAIM (webaim.org) accessibility training sessions, attended by more than 100 UA web professionals, were held in spring 2017. Level Access-led AMP training is scheduled for August 2017. In the past year, ETA has hosted or led more than 55 accessibility training or informational sessions on AMP; captioning; accessibility in Blackboard; creating accessible Word, PowerPoint, and Acrobat documents; universal design for learning; introduction to accessibility in higher education; legal accessibility factors in higher education; writing text alternatives; and ability and diversity considerations to make UA more inclusive.

Late 2016 Update

The University of Alabama technology accessibility initiative is on schedule with minor adjustments. Public-facing and campus-wide web sites under the purview of campus web professionals are on target to meet W3C WCAG 2.0 AA. UA web teams are actively using the Accessibility Management Platform and are incorporating accessibility practices into new and existing sites. More than 50 campus web professionals have attended training thus far and training efforts are ongoing. The Center for Instructional Technology’s Emerging Technology and Accessibility team hired a technology accessibility specialist and several student workers to support campus web accessibility needs. This team has conducted baseline audits of more than 500 UA sites, which will allow us to evaluate progress going forward. Plans for the coming year include working with UA web teams to assist with accessibility planning, developing ways to address non-compliant UA web technology tools, incorporating accessibility evaluations in campus technology selection processes, and proposing instructional technology accessibility plans.

Mid- 2016 Update

With the valuable input of campus stakeholders, the University of Alabama has acquired and begun the implementation of the SSB Bart Group Accessibility Management Platform (AMP). AMP and similar tools were evaluated based on campus requirements and stakeholders were surveyed regarding their preferred tool. AMP allows for web accessibility evaluation and reporting through automated and manual means and will aid in meeting UA’s adopted guidelines, WCAG 2.0 AA. AMP also includes best practices, browser-based tools, and other features important to UA’s needs. Initial training sessions were held in May; more AMP workshops and tutorials will be announced shortly. Training on additional topics, to be determined based on stakeholder surveys, will be available mid to late summer 2016.

As of June 2016, a baseline accessibility evaluation of campus web sites via AMP is underway; this process, to be repeated annually, will allow UA to more accurately gauge its accessibility progress over the next several years. Many campus web teams are already conducting internal evaluations of their web sites. All campus web teams will be asked to complete a web accessibility plan outlining their intended steps and needed resources to meet WCAG 2.0 AA. This plan, for which a template and other guidance is  provided, encompasses new, existing, and legacy content accessibility and equivalent facilitation. Campus web accessibility plans will also include inventories of sites, multimedia content, and third party tools. The purpose of these plans is to meet federal guidelines regarding technology accessibility planning and progress, to document preparations and considerations for UA’s web accessibility, and to assist campus web teams with making their web sites accessible.

Fall 2015 Update

In order to determine how to best proceed with the implementation of UA’s new web accessibility initiative, campus web professionals were polled, as were other faculty and staff who create web sites or content. Questions related to content types, accessibility evaluation needs, authoring tools, and other needed information. A public summary is available below. For more information, contact Rachel Thompson. As of Sept 2015, we are working through UA’s channels to follow the next steps in order to acquire the needed web accessibility evaluation tool(s) and training.

Web Accessibility Survey Summary

UA staff members and faculty responded that web accessibility evaluation is needed for the following content types:

  • Forms
  • PDFs
  • Mobile content
  • Dynamic content
  • Images
  • Multimedia (including video and audio)
  • Microsoft Office files
  • Password-protected content

Survey respondents indicated that the following capabilities would be useful for accessibility evaluation (in decreasing order of importance):

  • Run reports/audits on demand
  • Offer information on how to remedy accessibility problems
  • Locate and evaluate multimedia, PDFs, and documents
  • Allow evaluation for password-protected sites
  • Single or multiple page evaluation and reporting available
  • Run unlimited reports/audits (i.e. no limit to the number of pages evaluated)
  • Browser-based option available
  • Ability to ignore and reset rules or define exceptions
  • Evaluate pre-published content (on a test server, page preview, or other non-published resource)
  • Show progress/changes over time
  • Ability to tie into UA authentication for single sign-on