In order to deliver our solution for college and university marketing to students online through digital recruitment, we ensure that your .edu website meets legal guidelines and international standards. While all of our products are Section 508 compliant (link: https://www.section508.gov/content/learn), our operations team left Salt Lake City feeling empowered with new research and a grand plan to help our future and current partners excel. Below are the most important and actionable items our operations team shared with us from the WebAIM training:
1. Compliant vs. Accessible: Compliance means we meet the specifications as written in WCAG 2.0. The difference between this and accessibility is that we not only meet the specifications, but we make every effort to make the site usable for someone with a disability. This includes laying everything out in the correct format, embedding the appropriate code, configuring all ALT tags correctly, and more. Meeting the specifications alone does not provide the optimal experience for a disabled user.
2. Using Alternative Text and Tags: If text and tags aren’t formatted or used correctly, they can make the disabled user-experience much more cumbersome.
3. Web page Format: Many types of interactive maps are still not ideal for a person with a disability. This is something we will be looking into as we continue to make our product offerings more disability-accessible.
4. Benefits of an Accessible Page: Much of the work we do to improve our products for accessibility also improves the UI/UX, SEO, and many other things.
5. What Website Accessible Really Means: The larger share of disabled persons as related to our market is those with cognitive learning disabilities. For many, they can see and hear, but the manner in which a website is laid out, designed, or functions can prove to be an insurmountable challenge. Something that is seemingly easy to use and in reality is for those without disabilities, can be viewed as difficult for them based on something as simple as how a menu functions.
6. Website Navigation for all Visitors: We spent some time observing and interacting with a disabled woman who demonstrated how she shops for clothes, groceries and more online. Listening to her screen reader read to her at 220+ words per minute had a huge impact on both of us; neither one of us could confidently come close to duplicating her ability to navigate based on the basic ideas outlined in compliance documentation!
7. Bonus Fact: The set of guidelines is actually pronounced Wuh-Cag!
This training session was a highly informative exercise to confirm that we are on the right path to providing all users the most optimized experience possible. We reaffirmed that our product offerings already meet a minimum WCAG 2.0 standards, but discovered that there are several ways that we can make our disabled user’s experience even better.