Web Accessibility Policy

Below is the draft policy for website accessibility as of Nov. 9, 2017.

Introduction

University of Detroit Mercy is committed to ensuring that its website is accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities. This policy ensures that information provided through the University’s online content is accessible to students, prospective students, employees, guests, and visitors with disabilities, particularly those with visual, hearing, or manual impairments, or who otherwise require the use of assistive technology to access information.

“Accessible” means that a person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability, in an equally effective and equally integrated manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use. Although this might not result in identical ease of use compared to that of persons without disabilities, the goal is to provide equal opportunity to the educational benefits and opportunities afforded by the technology and equal treatment in the use of such technology.

Technical standard

To determine whether online content is accessible, the University will measure conformance with Level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, developed by the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative. (This standard is commonly referred to by the acronyms W3C WAI WCAG 2.0).

 

Web Accessibility Coordinators

The University will provide two Web Accessibility Coordinators with sufficient resources and authority to coordinate and implement the Web Accessibility Policy and all other commitments relating to accessibility of the websites.  It is the job of the Web Accessibility Coordinators to understand and employ the technical accessibility standard(s) adopted by the University, handle reports of accessibility violations or concerns, and handle formal complaints through Section 504 and Title II grievance procedures.  One of the Web Accessibility Coordinators will serve as a point of contact for website users, and another will have the technical Web development knowledge needed to make changes to website content and code.

The University will designate its Director of Disability Support Services (DDSS) to receive accessibility violation reports and formal complaints.  The contact information for the DDSS will be published for those wishing to report an accessibility issue, and the DDSS will monitor the email account ‘accessibilty@udmercy.edu’.  For the implementation of needed changes on the websites, the DDSS will rely on a technical Web Accessibility Coordinator.

The University will designate a Web Information Specialist in the Marketing & Communications Department as a technical Web Accessibility Coordinator, whose job it is to understand and implement the adopted technical accessibility standard(s), provide accessibility training to people who modify the University’s websites, engineer the software code needed to improve website accessibility, update online content related to the Web Accessibility Policy, and lead technical accessibility audits of University website.

Procedures

The University will use the following procedures to ensure that content and information presented on University websites are accessible.

Annual training

The University will provide for annual Web accessibility training for anyone who creates or maintains online content for the University websites.  Accessibility training will be a standing component of website maintenance training, which is required training for all who modify University websites.  This training will include information on the University’s Web Accessibility Policy and related roles and responsibilities, as well as technical training on how to create and maintain accessible online content.

Training will be facilitated by individuals with sufficient knowledge, skill, and experience to understand and employ the technical accessibility standard(s) adopted by the University.

For those who have already been fully trained at least once in Web accessibility, the annual training requirement can be satisfied by an annual notice via email with:

  • a link to the Web Accessibility Policy,
  • highlights of any policy updates, and
  • the name and contact info of the technical Web Accessibility Coordinator for any questions.

Accessibility audits

The University will provide for accessibility audits that are directed by the technical Web Accessibility Coordinator at regular intervals.  All problems found in audit will be documented, evaluated, and remediated within a reasonable period of time.

The University has invested in the SiteImprove service, which systematically and constantly analyzes University website content for accessibility issues, and reports any found violations.  The Marketing & Communications Department will continue to track and remediate issues discovered by SiteImprove.

Furthermore, the University will employ the W3C’s for checking the accessibility of University website content.  The WCAG-EM will be followed at least once per year.

Accessibility violation reporting

The University will inform students, prospective students, employees, guests, and visitors how they can report violations of the University’s adopted accessibility standard(s), file a formal complaint through its Section 504 and Title II grievance procedure, and/or contact appropriate personnel at the University with any accessibility concerns.

The contact information for reporting accessibility issues will be made available to all website visitors via a link included in the footer of University webpages.  Also, an annual notice will be sent via email to University students and employees.

The email address accessibility@udmercy.edu will be used to receive messages for this purpose.  The email address will be monitored by the University’s Director of Disability Support Services (DDSS).

The Web Accessibility Policy, as published on the website, will include the name and/or title, office address and telephone number of the DDSS, and the ‘accessibility@udmercy.edu’ email address, which is monitored by the DDSS.

Procedures for third-party content

Direction of administrators and staff regarding third-party acquisitions

The University will direct administrators and staff to ensure that any University acquisition or use of third-party online content (such as that provided by vendors, video-sharing sites, etc.) that appears on a University website is accessible.  This direction will be performed through an annual email sent to University employees, as well as in annual training for any employees or volunteers involved in website development.

Acquisitions of new third-party online content

The University’s Department of Information Technology Services (ITS) has implemented an accessibility requirement for new IT acquisitions, including systems that would develop or provide content on the University websites.

ITS requests and reviews Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates or other attestations of Section 508 compliance for new IT systems and services that are purchased through the contract review process.  Should the system or service not be in compliance to an acceptable level, ITS is in a position to reject the purchase.

For existing third-party online content

Several IT systems currently in use at the University preceded implementation of the accessibility policy and procedures, so the University will conduct audits to determine the accessibility of the online content provided or developed by such existing systems.

The University will conduct periodic audits of website content and information that is developed or provided by third parties such as vendors or online services. The procedure is as follows.

  1. Contact leaders of each area of the University to request information on each system managed by that area that contributes to the University website content and information, and obtain contact information for the vendor of each system.
  2. Request from each vendor a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template or other attestations of Section 508 compliance.  Part of the vendor response should be a statement from the responsible representative in email or writing verifying that these systems meet the University’s adopted accessibility standard(s). 
  3. If third-party content or information does not meet the accessibility standard, the University will obtain a statement about how the third party plans to make their content meet the standard.
  4. If third-party content cannot be made to meet the University’s accessibility standard in a reasonable amount of time, alternative systems will be considered.

Upgrading or replacing certain third-party content

Because the University made major commitments to certain key systems before the enactment of this Web Accessibility Policy, and because there may be limited options for more accessible alternatives (due to availability, compatibility, upgradability, etc.), achieving compliance of content provided or developed by each such third-party system may require a long-term project.

In such cases, the University would depend on and work with the third parties to either achieve accessibility compliance in their systems, or replace the systems with accessible alternatives.