Our university website is the most important tool for communication and marketing, and we strive to communicate in ways that are both thoughtful and inclusive. We’re always working to improve the website and create a better experience for everyone, which includes focusing on web accessibility.
Web accessibility refers to content on the web that is accessible to everyone, regardless of their physical or mental abilities, technology, native language, etc. Improving web accessibility is an ongoing effort that involves everyone who edits and updates our website — from web developers in IT Services to graduate assistants in our academic departments. Together, we’re working to ensure that all of the content on our website is accessible, accurate, and understandable.
Why Web Accessibility Matters
Our university is committed to diversity, inclusion, and equality. Making our website accessible benefits every person who visits ualr.edu.
Additionally, Board Policy 280.1 outlines the guidelines related to webpage accessibility and explains that each institution must monitor all webpages and remediate content not in compliance with the accessibility standard. This is a practice that best serves our students and may be required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
How We Measure Web Accessibility
We use a tool called SiteImprove to continuously identify accessibility issues across the website so that we can resolve them.
We follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1: a set of standards published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). As of January 2017, these standards align with the accessibility requirements for information and communication technology (ICT) as defined by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
SiteImprove scans the entire website, but if you’d like us to create a custom report of your site, please submit a request. For information about accessibility accommodations, please visit our Disability Resource Center.
Guidelines and Standards
As a content editor, there are simple steps you can take to make your website accessible. These guidelines must be followed in order to improve accessibility and follow the legal requirements.
Custom Formatting – Inline Styling
Inline styling (using HTML and CSS to create things like custom layouts, custom button styles, or changing the color or size of text) goes against the university web standards and can pose accessibility issues. All inline styles will be removed as part of the redesign or code audits.
HTML headings (like the ones used on this page) should be used to outline and organize a page’s content into topics and sub-topics. When used correctly, headings make the page easier to read and easier to navigate with assistive technology. Headings should never be used for styling purposes.
There are six levels of headings, with
<h1> being the title of the page,
<h2> being the top-level headings within the content, and
<h6> being lower-level headings.
|Heading Level||HTML Tag||Purpose|
||This is reserved for the page title only and is placed automatically. The H1 is not to be used anywhere else on the page.|
||Used for subtopics of the page|
||Used for subtopics of a <h2>|
||Used for subtopics of a <h3>|
||Used for subtopics of a <h4>|
||Used for subtopics of a <h5>|
Additionally, each page must have a page title for accessibility and for search engine optimization (SEO). The page title is automatically formatted as Heading 1 text, so all other top-level topics within the main content should be formatted with Heading 2 text.
Heading 3-6 formats should only be used if other topics are nested within a main topic. The body text on the page should always be formatted as paragraph text.
HTML lists should only be used to group sets of related items—never for formatting alone. If the items in the list have a specific order (e.g., the steps to apply for a scholarship), you should use a numbered (ordered) list. If the order of the items does not matter (e.g., a list of required materials for a course), you should use a bulleted (unordered) list.
When writing for the web, keeping paragraphs short will make your content easier to read. Aim to use 150 words or less per paragraph.
Tables should be used for tabular data only and never for formatting or layout purposes. Using tables for visual design alone can create accessibility issues and make the content feel confusing.
Using Alternative Text
With the exception of images that are used purely for decorative purposes, you should always provide an equitable text alternative. This is called alternative text, alt text, or an image description.
Alt text is helpful to people who use assistive technology because it can be communicated in other ways, like through speech, braille, and simpler language. It’s also helpful in instances where an image is loading slowly or has a broken URL because the alt text will load in its place. Alt text is also helpful for SEO, increasing the likelihood that people will find your page via search.
When writing alt text for an image, try to describe the image as clearly and as briefly as possible. Keep in mind that popular screen readers cut off alt text around 125 characters.
Using Text on Images
Using text on images must be avoided. Not only can the text sometimes be difficult to read, assistive technology is unable to understand any text placed on an image. Additionally, search engines cannot scan text on images. This will hurt your site’s SEO.