Online Content Accessibility

It's the Law and It's the Right Thing to Do

The University of Alaska is committed to ensuring that all of its students – regardless of challenges – may achieve their academic goals. All content on UAA websites and online course material must meet accessibility guidelines as required by federal law. This includes, and is not limited to, Web pages, PDF files, videos, audio files, Word, Powerpoint and Excel files.

Key federal legislation related to online courses in higher education includes the following:

  • Rehabilitation Act passed in 1973 made it unlawful to discriminate against persons with disabilities in all federally assisted programs, services, and employment.
    • Section 504 stipulates that "no qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity that receives federal financial assistance.”
    • Section 508 is a 1998 amendment to the Rehabilitation Act that requires electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by federal agencies to be accessible by people with disabilities.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is civil rights legislation signed in 1990 to prohibit discrimination based on a student’s disability.
    • The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 clarifies the definition of “disability” and broadens the number of individuals who are eligible for the protections of the ADA, including accommodations for temporary disabilities.

Web Design - What's In It For Me?

IT Services offers basic accessible web design in OUCampus as part of the initial training for OUCampus users.  See the resources in Training FAQ.
In addition to the legal requirements of accessible web design, there are many other reasons to ensure your content is accessible:

Accessible sites honor diversity through proactive planning, especially for:

  • People with disabilities
  • People learning English
  • People with age related sensory declines
  • People with lower comfort level with technology

Accessible sites benefit the sponsor or hosting entity with:

  • More hits in search engines
  • Ability to reach a wider market share
  • Increased positive regard

Benefits to the course designer include:

  • Faster loading times
  • Easier site maintenance
  • Fewer requests for retroactive accommodation

Accessible Course Design

All students have the right to materials necessary to be successful in a course. Accessible course design removes barriers before they are encountered so the need for accommodation can be reduced. Whether you're faculty or student, visit the resources below for assistance.