Colleges struggle to support web accessibility

Only 17 universities implement W3C standards for websites. Those that have say it is hard work but worth it.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor

Money and lack of initiative are two of the that prevent many colleges from making their websites accessible to people with disabilities, reports Hannon Hill, a maker of web content-management solutions. The study found that only 17 of the 124 American universities are in compliance with the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C's) accessibility standards. The W3C standards are regarded as the industry standard for web accessibility for people with disabilities.

Accessibility requires websites be designed for use with electronic screen readers or screen magnifiers. Sites should also provide on-screen options to enlarge font size.

"By upholding W3C web-site standards, colleges take the same approach to making a web site accessible as they would to making physical walkways and structures accessible to persons with disabilities," said David Cummings, chief executive officer of Hannon Hill.

UC Davis was one of the schools which passed the test after setting accessibility as an important goal during their redesign process.

"This takes a bit more effort and involves a [near-] complete rewrite of the HTML of all the pages to completely separate content from presentation," Farris explained. "The results, however, are well worth the time and effort. Pages are easier to edit, more backwardly compatible, and leaner," said UC Davis' webmaster, Craig Farris.
Editorial standards