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Communications and Public Affairs

Accessibility

The university is committed to ensuring digital accessibility and improving the user experience. Following accessibility guidelines makes content more usable for all website visitors. 

Accessibility is a dimension we must consider when creating user-friendly websites. Those with compromised vision often use a device called a screen reader to visit websites. Because a screen reader reads the website content to the site visitor, key aspects of websites such as styling and web elements must be optimized for screen readers.

 

Link Text

Link text should make it easy for a user or screen reader to understand where a link will take them. Screen readers often combine all links on a page into a list to make navigation faster. 

Do this: Replace any vague link text with text that’s clear about the link destination.

Not that: Links reading “Click Here” or “Learn More” are vague because they don’t explain the destination. 

 

Image Alt Text

Screen readers read the field labeled alternative (alt) text to describe an image. The field is required for any image placed on your site. Alt text isn’t just functional, it should be written in a way that enhances your site.

Do this: Describe the content of the image. Include any information or locations that are specific to the university. Be descriptive but succinct. Always include captions for image galleries as these double as alt text. Use our alternative text guidelines to help with writing alt text.

Not that: Writing "image of" or "photo of" before an image description is redundant. A screen reader says the content type before reading the description.

 

PDFs

Many PDFs and Word files aren’t accessible, which makes it difficult or impossible for screen readers to read the content to users. It is better to present the content on a web page.

Do this: Create web pages for your document content. When you must use a PDF or Word file, use our PDF accessibility guidelines to help make your documet user friendly for everyone.

Not that: Posting content in PDFs or Word documents is not a good practice as most users prefer browsing on a page. 

 

Heading Hierarchy

Screen readers help a user navigate a page by reading the headings. If the page has no headings, the screen reader reads every line on the page. Ideally, a site viewer should be able to grasp what the page is about just by reading the headings.

Do this: Give your text headings in sequential order (h1-h6). Write headings in a way that summarizes your content for skimming the page. 

Not that: Headings that are out of order or missing will confuse screen readers and their users.

 

Forms

Screen readers have a mode that’s just for reading forms. Only accessible forms created with Formstack and OU Campus are approved by Communications and Public Affairs.

Do this: Build forms only in OU Campus or Formstack. Move all third-party forms onto these platforms. Put all descriptive text before or after the form on the web page, not within the form itself.

Not that: Creating forms using other platforms like Google or Wufoo risks the accessibility rating for university web pages. If a third-party vendor needs to be checked for accessibility, please contact Owned Media.

 

Videos

All videos should be close-captioned to assist visitors who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Captions also let sighted viewers listen and read simultaneously, which often aids in information recall.

Do this: Add captions to all videos on your website.

Not that: Never rely on auto-captioning provided by third-party video hosts such as YouTube, which relies on speech recognition technology and is often inaccurate. 

 


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