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Digital Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning: Procurement and Licensing

Central EResources

CUNY has a useful procurement section in its new accessibility webpage. In response to the suggestions there, OLS has developed a plan for working with vendors on accessibility:

OLS is having conversations with vendors about accessibility as their licenses come up for renewal. The checklists used to record vendor responses as well as Vendor VPATS are located in the "accessibility tab" of the library licensing guide.



Internet and Web-based Content Accessibility Checklist from the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies

  1. For anything on a web page that is not text, is there a text equivalent for that item?
    • Anything that is not text on a web page usually includes but is not limited to an image, graphic, audio clip, applets (small application running within a web browser, i.e. text chat window, etc.), tickers, or other feature that conveys meaning through a picture or sound. Examples include buttons, check boxes, pictures and embedded or streaming audio or video.
    • Providing a text equivalent means that words are being used to describe what an item (that does not physically consist of text) actually is, why it is there, and any information being communicated by the use of that item or the item itself.
    • Check that all images have accurate and meaningful text equivalents. Images mostly use an “alt-tag” or “longdesc” attribute as part of the object. To check, mouse users can roll their mouse cursor over an image. If a text label or window pops up, then it has a text equivalent. Screen reader users can listen to see if an image is identified and described. It is also acceptable to simply include a text description above or below the image. For example, “The picture below shows…”
    • Be sure that images of text, graphical text (pictures of text), or text that is part of an image have a text equivalent. Be sure that the text equivalent correctly describes the image or communicates any information as part of the image. For example, if the image itself contains words, be sure the exact wording from the image is used within the text equivalent.
    • Be sure any audio has a text equivalent, such as a text transcript.
  2. Is captioning, audio descriptions, or other equivalent provided for presentations that utilize both audio and video at the same time? Is captioning, descriptions, or other alternatives synchronized with the presentation?
    • Be sure that all audio has been captioned for the deaf or hard of hearing, and video has audio descriptions for blind and visually impaired.
    • Be sure that captions and audio descriptions are synchronized correctly with the audio and video. For example, synchronized captions allow someone to read captions and also watch the speaker’s relevant body language.
    • Remember that this only applies to multimedia presentations, i.e., those presentations utilizing both audio and video at the same time. For example, the audio and video webcast of a program would need to be synchronized. An audio webcast would require a text transcript. A silent (no audio) web slide show would require a text equivalent for any images.
  3. If color was removed, would it inhibit use of the web site?
    • To check, view the page using a monochrome monitor (ex. black and white monitor, etc) or by printing a page to a black and white printer. When the color has been removed, can users still use the page effectively?
    • Is color being used to emphasize text or indicate an action? If so, an alternate method needs to be included so users can identify what is being emphasized by the use of the colored text or action. For example, if all links on a web page are blue, than underlining the links is an acceptable method for identifying blue colored links. Another example, if users are prompted to press a green start button, than a text label above the green button saying “Press green start button” is an acceptable method.
  4. Do web pages ignore user defined style sheets?
    • Style sheets are formatting instructions on how a page should be displayed (can also include how it is printed and pronounced).  For example, a user specifies that they want their browser to view pages with extra large font with white characters on a black background. These preferences are set up for all pages viewed.
    • Does a web page override or ignore user settings? Developers can program pages to override user settings.
    • To check, disable style sheets within the browser (Check browser’s help menu for instructions) or try changing the font size or background colors through the browser’s settings.
  5. If a link is embedded in an image, is there an equivalent text link?
    • Frequently, web designer will use an image map. Simply, this is an image that contains a link or set of links.
    • Check to see if the image has any text links or labels. In some cases, you may have to move the mouse around the image to see if different text labels appear over different portions of the image. Screen readers will announce “image map link…” when a link is detected. These text labels alert users that by clicking or selecting the link in this particular region of the image, it will retrieve a specific web page. This is an example of a client-side image map. These can be quite accommodating to people with disabilities and those using adaptive technology.
    • On the other hand, there are image maps that do not indicate to the user which specific web page will be retrieved when a particular region of the image is selected. These are called server-side image maps, because the computer or server hosting the web page determines which page is sent based on portion of the image selected. These are not accessible image maps, requiring a redundant text link on the same page retrieving the same pages as those links used in the image map.
  6. If information is displayed using a table(s), can columns and rows be identified by screen readers?
    • Using a screen reader, listen to how the table is read aloud.
    • Has the table been titled?
    • Have columns and rows been properly titled?
    • Has the information been presented in a logical order, i.e. does it makes sense?
  7. If frames are used, are they accurately text labeled?
    • Frames are used to visually separate information on a web page.
    • Do the frames have appropriate text labels identifying the information contained inside them?
    • Can you easily move between frames through the keyboard?
    • Can users access all the features housed within the frame, i.e. form fields, text chatting or text chat displays, etc.?
  8. Does anything on the page blink or flicker?
    • Ask if the web designers can prove whether any blinking or flashing elements have a blink or flash frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz.  This requirement is necessary because some individuals with photosensitive epilepsy can have a seizure triggered by displays that flicker or flash, particularly if the flash has a high intensity and is within certain frequency ranges.
  9. Do web sites not conforming to acceptable and approved accessibility standards offer a text only equivalent of their web site?
    • The World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative Guidelines, and Section 508 are the two widely accepted authorities on Web accessibility and design.
    • Web sites that cannot adhere to the accessibility guidelines set forth by W3C and Section 508 can offer a text only equivalent for all the information displayed and all functions available.
    • Does each page of the web site have a text only page? Is the text only link easy to find?
    • Is the text only page concurrent with the non-text only page? Is the text only page being updated?
  10. If scripting is used, such as JAVA, etc., is there a text equivalent so adaptive technology, like screen readers, can read the information?
    • An example of scripting could be a stock ticker on a web page that is animated, refreshing, and displaying information. Another example is using an image, that when a mouse cursor rolls over the image, additional information pops open on the screen, and then disappears when the mouse cursor rolls off. 
    • Using a screen reader, can the parts of the web page executing scripts be read? Is the information being read accurate to what is being displayed?
    • Can users disable scripting? Does disabling the script(s) affect the use of the web page?
  11. If a page uses a special applet, plug-in, or application to view information, is there a link on the same page for users to download the utility they need in order to access and display the information?
    • Example: A web page offers documents as PDF files. Does the same web page also have a link to download Adobe Reader? (
    • Is the applet, plug in, application, or method(s) for displaying the information accessible and compatible with adaptive technology?
  12. If online forms are used, can people using adaptive technology fill in and submit all the required information?
    • Can a keyboard be used to access all the form fields?
    • Are text labels used either inside or near form fields to identify what information users should be entering?
    • Can a screen reader identify the form(s)?
    • Do the forms follow a logical order? For example, if a user hears “Last Name” is the corresponding form the area where they would enter their last name?
  13. Is there a way for users, especially those using screen readers to skip repetitive navigational links?
    • Navigational links are a set of routine navigation links-frequently used to move users to pages within a web site-usually located on the top or side of each web page. For example, “Help,” “Contact Us,” etc; links that all appear on the same page within a web site in exactly the same way and location.
    • Can screen reader users move or skip past navigation links to access the unique content of the page?
    • Is the method to skip the navigation positioned before the navigation links?
  14. If users are given a certain amount of time for an action or response, is there any indication how much time they have left or an option to request more time?
    • Some web pages may expire or time out after a certain amount of time, and refresh the entire page, for example those requesting personal information.
    • Do users requiring special needs or using adaptive technology have enough time to complete all necessary form fields before the page expires or times out?
    • What indication is a user given that the page is about to expire, time out, or refresh? Does the indication effectively alert the user?
    •  Is the user prompted or is there a way to request for additional time if needed?
  15. Is there a help page or easily identifiable contact for users who need further assistance?
    • How do users get help with how to use the web page?
    • Is there special help for those using adaptive technologies?
    • Is there a navigation guide that describes the design or layout of the web site or web page?
    • Can users contact or email for technical support?
    • Is the help page helpful and/or accessible?