“The web offers many opportunities for people with disabilities that are unavailable through any other medium. It offers independence and freedom. However, if a web site is not created with web accessibility in mind, it may exclude a segment of the population that stands to gain the most from the internet. Most people do not intend to exclude people with disabilities. As organizations and designers become aware of and implement accessibility, they will ensure that their content can be accessed by a broader population.”  — from the WebAIM site 

Making your site more accessible also makes it more useable. It will benefit all of your users.8.5% of the population has a disability that affects computer use…this does not include those with cognitive/learning disabilities, color blindness, etc. The major categories of disability types are:

  • Visual – blindness, low vision, color-blindness, photosensitive epilepsy
  • Hearing – deafness, and hard-of-hearing
  • Motor – inability to use a mouse, slow response time, limited fine motor control
  • Cognitive – learning disabilities, distractibility, inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information

There are nearly three times more individuals with low vision than those with total blindness. One person in twelve has some sort of color deficiency—about 8% of men and 0.4% of women in the U.S. A person with low vision or color deficiency will not be able to distinguish text against a background without sufficient contrast or follow instructions or content that relies on color alone.

Cornell’s Policy

Before we go further, know that there is currently an interim Web Accessibility Standards policy at Cornell.

From the Policy Statement — “…all new, newly added or redesigned university web content, web pages, web functionality, websites, and web applications must be made accessible to people with disabilities to the standard prescribed by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA...”

A few definitions from the policy….

  • University Web page, Website or Web Application — Any web page, website, or web application created or procured by a unit for or in support of the activities carried out under the auspices of the university. 
  • Web Content — The information contained on a web page or presented through a web application, including text, images, PDFs, video, audio, and code or markup that defines structure, presentation, etc. 
  • Web Functionality — An interactive part of a web page, website or web application. Including, but not limited to, maps, photo galleries, video galleries, online forms, etc. 

Focus of Initial Remediation Efforts

While the policy is focused on any new content (new apps, newly designed websites, adding new content to current websites, etc.), there is also an effort that has been going since early 2018 to address web accessibility issues on top sites at the university by the end of 2019.   

In the areas supported by SSIT, we have several sites on that list, including:

  • admissions.cornell.edu
    • meetezra.admissions.cornell.edu
  • finaid.cornell.edu 
  • gradschool.cornell.edu 
  • registrar.cornell.edu
    • courses.cornell.edu
    • classes.cornell.edu
    • studentessentials.cornell.edu
  • newstudents.cornell.edu
  • health.cornell.edu
  • sds.cornell.edu 
  • living.cornell.edu
  • scl.cornell.edu
  • dos.cornell.edu

There may be additional subsites and applications connected to the sites above that fall into this initial remediation effort.