Web accessibility at the U-M

This site will help you to understand what the accessibility requirements are for your online resources, how to meet those requirements, and what resources you have at your disposal. We encourage feedback! Let us know what content doesn’t work for you or what you would like to see added to the site by contacting Scott Williams (swims at umich.edu), the webmaster.

Accessibility means making your site available to the widest possible audience—which includes able-bodied users. It is helpful to think of accessibility as being like its sibling, usability. In fact, it is impossible to separate the two, and improving one improves the other.

Both the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1991 prohibit colleges and universities from discriminating against students, faculty, and staff with disabilities. Case law and the Department of Justice’s recent focus on the accessibility of state and local online resources are putting the spotlight on our University’s websites and videos. More importantly, web accessibility is the right thing to do: people with disabilities are attempting to read your content.

When using this website to implement accessibility for your website, you should be aware of the following:

  • Priority should be given to new and revised website development when implementing accessibility. This doesn’t mean that you can ignore existing online resources that are necessary for participation in the University community, but it is more effective to implement accessibility from the inception of a web project than to do so retroactively.
  • The best practices detailed on this site are based on the de facto standards of the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). Section 508 guidelines are currently being revised to align with WCAG 2.0.
  • Some third-party vendors may still be validating against WCAG 1.0, and you may need to evaluate their interfaces with the W3C WCAG 1.0 Checklist. Many vendors doing extensive work for the federal government follow Section 508 standards, and you can use the Section 508 checklist in such cases.
  • Scott Williams (swims at umich.edu), the University’s Web Accessibility Coordinator, and the U-M Web Accessibility Working Group can provide you with the support and advice you need to make your site accessible.