Stephen F. Austin State University

Accessibility FAQs

General Accessibility

Is my site required to be accessible?
Yes. Both Federal and State law require institutions of higher learning to provide accessible web pages.
What is the cost of developing accessible sites?
The cost associated with making web sites accessible is a concern to all departments on campus. However, the cost is generally minimal if accessibility principles are incorporated into the site from the beginning. Retrofitting, on the other hand, is far more expensive and time consuming.
Why should I make my page accessible?

There are many reasons why your web site should be accessible.

  1. It is easy to do. It is very simple to re-examine a web site and include many elements that will immediately make the site more accessible. Often this does not require changing the visual appearance or design of the site.
  2. It is the right thing to do. Making your web site work for everyone can make a huge difference to users with disabilities. Making an inaccessible web site means that a potential customer, prospective student, faculty member, etc. might not be able to get the information you are trying to share. You are posting information on your web site with the intent of sharing information, so why would you make it impossible for visitors to use it?
  3. It won't look different. Making simple changes is often enough to make a site accessible without changing its appearance.
  4. It's the law. Web accessibility is something to take seriously. The nationwide retailer Target, for example, was sued by the National Foundation for the Blind because their web site was found to be not accessible.
What is the key to making a site accessible?
The most important thing to understand is that people use the Web in very different ways. A site should therefore present information in a way that people can access it regardless of what kind of hardware or software they are using, and regardless of how they navigate through a site. Web designers cannot assume that everyone uses the same kinds of devices the same way.
What are common accessibility mistakes?

While certainly not an exhaustive list, the following is representative of many common accessibility mistakes. Note that many, if not most, of these can be found and fixed by writing your web pages in XHTML and running them through an HTML validator.

  1. images without alternative text
  2. lack of alternative text for imagemap hot-spots
  3. audio or video without captions or transcripts
  4. lack of alternative information for users who can't access frames or scripts
  5. tables that are difficult to decipher when linearized
  6. sites where color is the only way to distinguish elements, or with poor color contrast
  7. fonts that are fixed-sized. Fonts should be relatively sized in a CSS
  8. form fields that are not properly labeled
  9. pages with long navigation menus without a "Skip-Navigation" link
How many people are actually affected?
The percentage of people with disabilities is between 10% and 20%. Not all disabilities affect access to information technologies such as the Web, but many do. Something else to keep in mind... for people with disabilities, online access is sometimes even more critical than for the general population, who may have an easier time accessing traditional sources of information.
Do I have to "dumb down" my site in order to make it accessible?
No. Making a web site accessible is more about including good design elements than removing them. Nearly all sophisticated and visually-attractive web technologies can be rendered in an accessible manner, if designed with accessibility in mind. Creative web designers are able to keep the web site visually pleasing and, at the same time, make it accessible for more people to access the site.
Must we make web sites accessible if instead we can accommodate a person with a disability in a non-technical manner?
In a business environment where the creation and maintenance of accessible websites is readily achievable, the use of an "ad hoc" approach to accommodating a person with a disability does not offer equal or comparable access. There may be times in very specific instances where something cannot be made accessible and providing the accommodation will be required. However this approach should supplement, rather than take the place of, providing an accessible technology infrastructure.