Hello, my name is Stacy Leggett, and I am a professor at Western Kentucky University. I also serve on the Consortium for Research on Educational Assessment and Teacher Effectiveness (CREATE) Board. I work with educational leaders primarily in Kentucky. In evaluating and writing reports to be posted on the web, I have learned some lessons about 508 compliance that I want to share.
Evaluation reports and websites should be 508 compliant and follow the more detailed Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. These guidelines help make electronic materials available to individuals with disabilities who might not be able to access non-compliant materials. The Section 508 website includes further details on how to develop accessible materials, test accessibility, and even buy accessible technology tools.
Are your evaluation reports and websites 508 and WCAG 2.0 compliant? Here are some lessons I have learned in preparing information to post on the Web:
- Keep things simple. Text boxes are not 508 compliant in Word—use tables with one cell to set off text instead. Complicated tables will set off warnings in the accessibility checker. Don’t merge cells or leave cells blank.
- Label graphics using alternate text. Make sure pictures, charts, and other graphics have alternate text attached. In Word, you can right click on the object and select “Edit Alt Text.” Briefly describe the object.
- Be careful of colors. Colors must have sufficient contrast between foreground and background colors to be accessible. Also, information cannot be conveyed only through color.
- Use the “check accessibility” review in Word to identify issues.
- Use “read aloud” to check clarity and proofread. The “read aloud” function under the “Review tab” or the “Immersive Reader” function under the “View” tab can help you determine if your tables or other information will be clear to readers using this functionality. Bonus, it is also a great way to proofread your own writing!
- Use hyperlinks that describe the link, not “click here” or other vague identifiers.
This table at United States Access Board is a comparison of WCAG 2.0 to 508 standards and includes a checklist for accessibility. The Access Board promotes accessibility for built environments and other contexts including information technology.
The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services provides helpful checklist for making sure PDF, Word, HTML, and audio/video files are accessible. See their tools and checklists.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Consortium for Research on Educational Assessment and Teaching (CREATE) week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from members of CREATE. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.