Disability Resources aims to provide students with equal access to all of SOU's classes and programs. Increasingly, technology provides both increased opportunities for independence in equal access and barriers to equal access. This page was created to help faculty and staff learn more about how to promote new opportunities and how they can help remove barriers.

The Basics: What is Web Accessibility and Why Should You Care?

Essentially, Web accessibility means the ability of people with a variety of disabilities to perceive, understand, and use the Web and its related information and technologies. It is the practice of designing and developing websites and web applications in a way that ensure equal access and usability for people with disabilities. Looking at some examples: how will a student who is blind be able to perceive a diagram illustrating a chemical process posted on a Blackboard site? How will a student who is Deaf perceive an audio-only podcast? How will a student with a visual-processing learning disability understand a two-page narrative process of steps? How will a student with a mobility impairment use a live chat room when typing with a headstick?

SOU's student population averages over 450 students who have registered with Disability Resources as having one or more disabilities. This translates to around 10-13% of the student population, making the students with disabilities subgroup larger than any student ethnic subgroup. By comparison, 18.1% of the general population in the United States has a disability (2002 SIPP, U.S. Census Bureau ).

There are some simple reasons to ensure equal access to Web information for these students:

  1. It's the right thing to do. Each student with a disability has paid tuition and works toward the same degree expectations as any other student of SOU. We, as faculty and staff, may need to make adjustments in how we deliver our programs, classes, and services, but these are students like any other students.
  2. It's the legal thing to do. As a public university, SOU must comply with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). This states:

Subject to the provisions of this title, no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity. [SEC. 202. Discrimination, 42 USC 12132]

To do this, we use WCAG 2.1 Standards. The sections below will help you make sure your information is accessible to everyone, regardless of ability.