22: Web Accessibility in Higher Education w/ Mark Greenfield

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Mark Greenfield, Digital Strategist at University at Buffalo, talks about how to make your higher ed website “accessible”, and both the improved student experience and legal necessity of doing so.

When you address accessibility issues,you are usually, if not always improving the overall user experiencefor anyone visiting your website. You're, listening to enrolment growth,university from heliks education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to grow in Roman at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh andromant growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show, welcome back to anromant growth,university, Imeri, alson, AVP of marketing and helecs education, andwere here today with Mark Greenfield, the gittal strategists at theUniversity of Buffalo Mark. Welcome to the show Hi Eric Pleasure to be heremark is an extremely influential leader and a very helpful voice when it comesto higher Ed web strategy. In general, we're going to have an importantconversation today about making your...

...higher ad website accessible in boththe improved user experience and legal necessity of doing so before we get toodeep in that mark, can you get the listeners a little bit betterunderstanding of both University of Buffalo and your role there? Socurrently I serve as a digital strategist at the University ofBuffaloo. I've been at Yub for thirty years now and have served in a varietyof technical web marketing, digital roles, and currently my focus is on.You know, really understanding how we can utilize the web to meet ourorganizational goals and objectives love it mark. Why does webaccessibility in higher red matter more than we may think? So it's really beeninteresting as I've been traveling over the last year or so, and talking withpeople at a variety of conferences, an event. It seems that wether cessibilityis top of mind for everybody, and this is primarily due to the increase inlitigation. So over the past twelve to eighteen months, there's been adramatic increase in the activity within the office of civil rights as itrelates to ebabcessibility. That being...

...said, that's really not the only reasonwhy to think about accessibility, especially of people in an enrolmentrole. One of the things that people fail to realize is that, up to twentypercent of the visitors to your sight may have anaccessibility issue. Mostpeople think about accessibility. They think just about people who are blindand necerarly just a small percentage of the people who have a disabilitythat would impact their ability to use your website. You need to think aboutother things, such as deafness motor impairments now their ability to use amouse, and even things like cognitive impairament, such as Dyslexia, know oneof the stats that I reference. A lot is that of all of the people with adisability visiting your website. Only two percent of those people are blind.You need to think about things like color blindness, and even like Imentioned before dysalexia. Fifteen percent of the population in the UnitedStates is dyslexic and, if you're not really thinking about how they can useyour website, you're really going to be...

...at a disadvantage, know another thingfor people in enrolment, management and marketing is thinking about the impactof brand. Now, as these OCR complaints become more public, you know thenegative publicity of a lawsuit is certainly something you need to thinkabout. Mark. I really love that the contept of thinking of both the justiceand the enrollment aspects of this issue. Can you give us a high leveloverview of the legal requirements today when it comes to Webexcessibilityand highered, as we're talking to today in December of two thousand andseventeen? What is the low bar of compliance? Is that bar different forpublics versus privates, so that bar you know, this is actually one of thechallenges with Webabcessibility over the twenty years, I've been working inthis space and that is really defining. What exactly is the bar that we need tomeet so the standard that gets reference most of the time in highereducation, whether it's public or private is section five oweight, andone of the things that keep in mind with section five unded eight is thatit is going through a change. That's...

...going to take effect in next Jant. Thiscoming January. The month from now, and traditionally the section five or eightrules were different from the WC threes rules, known as the BIEG DUP, two poin,oh double a standard. They were different as of this coming January.They're going to be the same, so that's important to keep in mind the secondthing that is really a game changer that happened in two thousand andseventeen was the win Dixie case, so the win dixie grocery store was sued inFlorida because their website was not accessible and for the first time acase at the federal level actually went to trial and a judge ruled in favor ofthe plaintiff and found that the Windixie case did not meet acessibility guideline. So that's the first time we really have case law. Sothose are a couple things that keep in mind is that there is some solid caselaw now and the section five oeight refresh as it's known, is going to nowaline that base standard with the...

...wickeg Doula. Two Point: Oh Standard.One of the things I like to say, real, quick as well, is all because you meetthe standard, doesn't necessarily mean that your website is completelyaccessible for people with disabilities and more necessarily get into thedetails about that. But you need to keep in mind that just meeting thestandard isn't necessarily good enough soo. In terms of making sure that, atthe very least you meet those standards and and better talk about how to take astrategic approach to web accessibility at your institution, how to getdifferent areas on Cavis involved and what exactly that could look like sure.So, one of the things to start with, and probably why I'm called me as aconsultant, because I'm on the outside is really understanding why your campusthinks saccessibility is important. There is four four areas to think aboutin this regard. One is the legal obligation which we've just talkedabout. The second is the idea of social responsibility and thinking about themoral and ethical reason to do...

...accessibility, and this is where it canreally tie back into brand and if you're, in your brand value, talkingabout inclusive, you now an inclusive community. This ties right into that.The third is thinking about expanding your market. There are, as I mentionedbefore, about twenty percent of the population, who has an issue if youhaven't addressed some of these accessibility now standards. So do you?Are you missing out on part of your market because you're not thinkingabout that and then the final one is thinking about the overall userexperience. When you address ascessibility issues, you are usually,if not always improving the overall user experience for anyone visitingyour website. From the example I like to use right now, my biggest pet peeveon the web or autoplay videos. It just drives me crazy when all of a sudden avideo starts playing now. For me, it's just kind of a nuisance and it'sfrustrating, but for somebody who is relying on a screen reader, somebodywho is blying and using ASSISTIV technology, they need to hear thecontrols to stop that video well, but...

...if they can't hear it because theaudiois playing now there's a huge barrier there. I think it's reallyimportant for campuses to have a frank conversation about why they areaddressing accessibility. I have never come across anybody who says that theyare not doing it because of the kind of social responsibility peace. But whenyou look at how they're investing the reality is the only reason they'redoing it is because they've gotten an nosr complaint. So I really think it'simportant to understand exactly why you're doing it and that will helpdrive your scratdugy going forward. Another thing that I think a lot ofcampuses- a mistake they make is not involving everybody in the conversationabout accessibility. Typically, this has been a conversation within itoffices or compliance offices. Sometimes you know going out into theweb development folks, but this is something where anybody who touches theweb makes the decision about the web or is impacted about the web needs to bethinking about accessibility. So the...

...broader of that conversation is thebetter off the campus will be mark. There are a whole lot of automatedtools out there to help you test your websites, compliance or lack thereof.Are there certain tools that you like, or is there a different approach? Youtake to compliance testing alltogether sure, so I like to look at compliancetesting in three phases. The first is using automated testing. You can dothis through free browser plugins that do a decent job. There are a number ofcompanies out there, where you can have them, scan your entire website and findaccessibility issues. You know, there's no right Er wrong approach to that.However, if you have a large website having those automated tools that scanyour entire site, I think are really valuable and cost effective. But theone thing to keep in mind is that any automatic tool is only going to findtwenty five to thirty percent of the errors on your site. So all becausethese tools are coming back and saying, your sight is okay know that they missa lot of information and know that they...

...can also give you a lot of falsepositives where they're finhding an airor when an air actually doesn'texist so start with that. The second thing you want to do is a base level ofmanual testing. Typically, this is involving using the keyboard, sokeyboard ascessibility is very important, for people are usingassistive technology and for people who have motor impairments and can't use amouse. So this keep oar testing you're going to use the keyboard just to makesure you can navigate through the site, making sure that all of the elements onthe site are reachable through the keyboard, making sure that as you'retabbing through it's following a logical order and making sure that youcan visibly see where the focus is of of your keyboard as you're temingthrough. So if you hit the enerchy, you know what you're going to select. Inaddition to that, I recommend not necessarily for all the pages on yourSihe, but for you know, if you're using a templated system, you know for acouple of those templates doing what I call functional testing, which ismaking sheer sight worse with the sist...

...of technology. So using something likejaws on the window side. You know making sure that that actually somebodywho is using the site with that technology actually can make that sight.Work Mark such good stuffwhat are some next steps for listeners who want tomake sure their sites are accessibble both to provide a better userexperience, wit their students and legally, to protect their institution.Sure. So one of the things I recommend is creating a comprehensive webaccessibility program. A mistake, a lot of campuses make is that they get anOCR complaint. There are some very specific steps. Ind things that need tobe done is part of that complaint. So they look at this as a project oncethey get the site up this snup, they check the box that it's done and don'tthink about it anymore. When reality is the sites always changing, so you needto come up with a comprehensive accessibility program. That'saddressing this. You know throughout you know going forward. Let me prefacethis sby saying I am not an attorney, so this is don't take. This is legaladvice. I've also noticed that, in my...

...travels, the exact requirement throughthe OCR will vary depending on the OCR attorney you're dealing with and theOCR investigator you're dealing with. That being said, there are a series ofthings that every campus should be thinking about, as it looks at creatingthis accessibility program, so me just go through those real quickly for you.The first is making sure that you have a web as sessibility policy and thatpolicy has been communicated to everybody throughout the campus. The second thing is putting somebody incharge of accessibility on your campus, depending on the size of yourinstitution. That may be, you know, a half a Fte for larger campuses, I'mseeing you know, Weba cessibility teams being built that are four or five fulltime equivalent, so really making sure you are putting resources toward that.The third thing is looking at you know: Purchasing automated testing software,so companies out there like sigt improve another one. Is Mon Sito,there's a whole variety of tools out...

...there that you can use to scan yourwebsites as you're, going through the process, make sure you come up with aremediation plan where you're strategically looking how you're goingto fix the issues that exist right now. Another thing to consider is theprocess you use for procurement, so working with your precumerant office tomake sure any software that's being purchased, meets the accessibilitystandards. Another thing, that's really important is developing trainingmaterials. So anybody who touches the web, whether it's developer, if youhave a cms, making sure that all of your content, c contributors aretrained, making sure that your faculty are trained in your LMS, providing thattraining, so people going forward aren't going to continue to makematerials that are inaccessible. Then the final thing which a lot of peopledon't think about is adding an accessibility statement to your website.Typically, this gets done in the footer of every websade. So in thataccessibility statement, what you want to see is just you know what yourpolicy is. A link to that policy, but...

...more important is a is contactinformation for people to get help if they need it. So the analogy that I seeuse a lot is that if you walk into a restaurant, if somebody is blind, thelocal mom and pop restaurant might not have the resources to make their menuin Brail, especially if that menu is changing daily Yeah. So anaccommodation would be make sure that your weight staff is trained, that ifsomebody can't read that menu that they read the Menutu, you know to them. Sothe accessibility statement is a similar thing where somebody is havinga problem assessing any information on your website. There's a contact there,so they can call or email somebody and get the help that you need. So I thinkthat's a really important piece- and I know in talking with some OCR attorneysthat'- something that they find know that they want to see is part of ofyour accessibility efforts mark such great stuff and so incredibly helpful.What's the best place for listeners to connect with you if they have anyfollowup questions, sure so probably...

...you know, my website is mark grcom markgrcom. That's probably the easiest way to get in touch with me. I'm also veryactive on twitter and my twitter handoe is Mark Gr, so those are probably thetwo best places to start and I'd be happy to now work with anybody helpanybody oute. If they have questions about this, I know what's top of mindfor a lot of people in Higher Ed Right now, marker the best thanks against somuch for joining us today. Thanks for having me attracting today's new post,traditional learners means adopting new enrolmant strategies. Kelics educationsdata driven enterprise, wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquelyhelping colleges and universities thrive in this new education, landscapeand Helex has just published the second edition of their enrollment growthplaybook, with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solvetoday's most pressing enromant growth challenges download it today for freeat Heloks, Educationcom playbook...

...you've been listening to enrolmentgrowth university from helics education to ensure that you never miss anepisode subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thankyou so much for listening until next time.

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