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Everything T4 users need to know about web accessibility
Web accessibility in a nutshell
Public service websites need to be available to absolutely everyone
Example: Nearly everone pays their car tax online. Imagine if that website's creators couldn't be bothered to add a 'Fully Electric' engine type to the site - even though users needed to select the engine type before it would calculate the price.
If this happened, 1 in 7 new car owners would be affected unfairly. Of course, something like that would never actually happen - no self-respecting website editor would ever descriminate against that many people just to save themselves an extra minute of editing!
And if a problem, affecting that many people, were ever discovered in their website, the editors would presumably rush to fix the problem as soon as possible.
We all would - or so we'd like to think. But the reality is that 1 in 7 people, using your web pages, relies on some kind of assistive technology to access that information. And if you're not making your web content work with this technology, you're denying them access to the public service - just like in our example, above.
Accessibility is not just about blind or deaf users
Many people can have invisible things (such as dyslexia, ADHD, light/glare sensitivity, headache), which may make them choose to use assistive software, to read the web page to them. Others may have difficulties with fine motor control, or a broken arm, so they need to navigate the page using the keyboard instead of a mouse. Some users may have slightly impaired vision (which could be caused by cataracts, glaucoma, diabetes, or just because they're getting older) so they prefer to zoom the screen a little to read it.
Making web pages accessible is normally an involved, complicated task but, thankfully, the University's CMS does most of the work for us.
There are only a few things that editors need to remember to do.
Accessibility improves your website for everyone
Accessibility features can be useful to able-bodied users as well as those who rely on them. A kerbside ramp may be designed for wheelchair users but it's also useful for prams, bikes, and older (or injured) pedestrians.
Similarly, web accessibility provides advantages for all users. For example, closed captions on web videos are essential for deaf people but they also let anyone watch videos with the volume down when they're in a library or on a train.
It's the law - and you (personally) can be fined for non-compliance
Web accessibility is a legal requirement for public bodies under EU and Irish law. Failure to comply can mean a €3,000 fine, up to 12 months in prison, or both - for the person responsible for the web content (and a fine for the University also).
The NDA actively monitors all Univeristy and public service websites, on behalf of the Government of Ireland, to gauge our compliance with Irish and EU law. A random 400 web pages from this University's website are assessed by them, each week.
By law, intranet content must be accessible too - so even if it's not for public consumption, you need to make your web pages, word documents, PDF's, and spreadsheets accessible if you share them with others via the web, Teams, or SharePoint.
And it's the University's policy
The University of Galway is committed to Universal Design & Accessibility - QA182 University of Galway Universal Design & Accessibility Policy states that (among other things) everything we put on our website (or procure for it) will be accessible (to WCAG-AA standards).