Many private companies have accessibility initiatives, which include their websites and applications. Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo – just to name a few. Apple, in particular, has done a great job building accessibility features into their products. The assistive tools that come standard with iOS, for example, are impressive.
Federal and (often) state regulations mandate equal access to education, including electronic and information resources. Consequently, it’s very common for universities to have their own accessibility initiatives, too. Penn State, Stanford, and the University of Washington are a few examples.
The people doing web accessibility work at these places can vary considerably. UX designers, developers, instructional designers, and other contributors can all play a part in making websites accessible. In some cases, there will be accessibility specialists who head those efforts, but that’s not always the case. Many people, in a wide range of disciplines, consider accessibility a part of their job, because they’re following web standards and/or universal design principles.
When it comes to web accessibility at A&M, we have a few accessibility specialists, but we also rely on the people building websites and contributing web content to consider accessibility as part of their jobs. The accessibility specialists in Texas A&M Information Technology exist to resource employees, set policy, and coordinate efforts, but the bulk of the work happens during the day-to-day activities of webmasters and other contributors (e.g., faculty, instructional designers, CMS users, developers) scattered across the University.
Some other key stakeholders doing accessibility work at A&M are Disability Services, Marketing and Communications, Instructional Technology Services, Center for Teaching Excellence, and Employee & Organizational Development. These groups are incorporating accessibility into their daily work and helping teach other A&M employees about the accessibility issues relevant to their roles on campus.
We often wear a lot of different hats in our jobs, so it can be difficult to know exactly what you should be doing when it comes to accessibility. For webmasters, a common challenge is explaining accessibility issues to content contributors using your CMS. If you need help, let us know; we can provide consultations and training. Take a look at the IT Accessibility website for resources and contact information.
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