Why Make Web Content Accessible?
All members of our Brock community navigate through and experience the world differently, and as such may have different needs for learning and accessing web content. For example, some members of our Brock community may use assistive technology and/or require accommodations to aid their learning.
Information that is presented solely through visual means will be inaccessible to blind users that require text to be read by a screen reader. Similarly, audio-only content will be inaccessible to deaf users, who may require captions, transcripts, and/or sign language interpretation to understand audio recordings or videos. Improving the accessibility of the web content allows for more users with diverse needs to access and understand that content, thereby reducing barriers to teaching and learning.
Creating accessible content is not only a best practice, but also a legal requirement. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) is law in Ontario, and establishes specific requirements for all Ontario organizations, including universities. As an inclusive university, we want to do what’s right, not just because we have to comply with legislation. Just as we are removing barriers to our facilities and infrastructure on campus, we are moving toward making teaching and learning more accessible. See Brock University’s Accessibility policy here.
Accessibility & Sakai
Different areas Brock's learning management system (LMS), Isaak-Sakai, include features that have been implemented for accessibility, including those that support students registered with Student Accessibility Services who use assistive technology and/or require accommodations. More information on these features can be found in the following content and links.
If you have questions about the accommodation process for students with disabilities please contact Student Accessibility Services.
Guidelines for Accessible Content
Instructors need to consider the principles of Universal Instructional Design when creating electronic resources, both in terms of in terms of the content and format of electronic resource. The asynchronous availability, variable pacing, and general flexibility of electronic resources can be of great value to learners with disabilities. Unfortunately, electronic resources are not innately accessible, but a little attention to the preparation of such resources is all that is needed.
A technical measure of the accessibility a web-based resource is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG 2.0, from the W3C. The requirements of the WCAG 2.0 are summarized in the four-letter acronym POUR:
- Perceivable - Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
- This means that users must be able to perceive the information being presented (it can't be invisible to all of their senses)
- Operable - User interface components and navigation must be operable.
- This means that users must be able to operate the interface (the interface cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform)
- Understandable - Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.
- This means that users must be able to understand the information as well as the operation of the user interface (the content or operation cannot be beyond their understanding)
- Robust - Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
- This means that users must be able to access the content as technologies advance (as technologies and user agents evolve, the content should remain accessible)
Basic Accessibility Features in Sakai
Access Keys in Sakai
Access keys allow keyboard users to jump to a specific part of a web page. If an access key is available for a given link or button, the access key will be announced by a screen reader when that link or button receives focus. The exact keyboard commands to trigger an access key depend on both your operating system and internet browser.
To invoke access keys:
- In Internet Explorer and Chrome on Windows, use Alt plus the indicated letter or number
- In Firefox for Windows, use Alt+Shift plus the indicated letter or number.
- In Safari or Firefox for Mac OS X, use Ctrl plus the indicated letter or number.
- In Chrome for Mac OS X, use Ctrl+Alt plus the indicated letter or number.
"Portal-Based" or Main Area Access Keys
Access keys available throughout Sakai include:
- Help tool: Access key - 6
- Skip to content: Access key - C
- Skip to tools list: Access key - L
- Skip to worksites: Access key - W
Tool-Specific Access Keys
Access keys that are available for most form-based tools include:
- Delete, remove, or cancel: Access key - X
- Edit or revise: Access key - E
- Refresh: Access key - U
- Save: Access key - S
- View or preview: Access key - V