Office of General Counsel

Web site Accessibility - FAQs


This paper answers frequently asked questions about requirements for making ASU Web sites accessible to users with disabilities. If you have additional questions appropriate for this site, please forward them to so we can consider adding them to the list.


What is Web site accessibility?

Some individuals may require auxiliary aids, adaptive equipment or specialized software to navigate through or access information on a Web site. Relatively simple Web site design features can facilitate access by these users. A poorly designed Web site, on the other hand, may be inaccessible to some users. Often design decisions made to improve access for users with disabilities will benefit other users as well.


Why do I need to understand the requirements for Web site accessibility?

Federal and state law and university policy require that ASU's programs and services be available to persons with disabilities. Web sites that provide information about ASU, that provide information for employees, or that are related in any way to instruction of students must be accessible to their intended audience.


Who is responsible for ensuring that ASU Web sites are accessible?

Each person and unit that posts a university or instructional Web site is responsible for ensuring that it is designed to be accessible as required by university policy.


What requirements apply to classroom instruction?

Web sites that contain information used in instruction must be accessible to all students in the class. All students should have the opportunity to join in class related experiences, including chat rooms and other interactive electronic experiences. Additional information about accommodations for students with disabilities is outlined in the OGC Briefing Paper "Educating Students with Disabilities at the Postsecondary Level".


What is ASU's policy on Web site accessibility?

The Digital Strategy Board has prepared Standards and Guidelines for university Web sites on a number of important issues, including Web site accessibility. This document describes different types of university Web sites and the accessibility requirements for each. For example, all college and university home pages must have the highest level of accessibility. College and university home pages include those under the authority of the President, Senior Vice Presidents, Provosts, Vice Provosts, Vice Presidents, Deans, Directors, and Chairs. All pages used for any university instructional purpose must be accessible by all students in the class.


What are the levels of accessibility?

The World Wide Web Consortium ("W3C") has developed standards for levels of accessibility. The W3C has created three priority levels and provides detailed information about the steps to take to make a Web site accessible at each priority level. Under ASU policy, college and university pages must satisfy Priority 1 requirements.


What are some examples of Web site design features that will make a site more accessible?

The World Wide Web Consortium ("W3C") Web site includes an extensive discussion of design features that impact accessibility. Some examples of W3C recommendations are:

  • Provide equivalent alternatives to auditory and visual content
  • Do not rely on color to convey information
  • Provide text equivalents to images and multimedia content
  • Present content in a way that is compatible with older browsers, existing auxiliary aids and users who choose to turn off features such as scripts

The W3C Web site also provides detailed information and strategies for implementing these and other recommendations.


Where should a student go to request an accommodation for a disability?

Tempe and Polytechnic campus students who wish to request an accommodation for a disability should be directed to contact the Disability Resource Center for Students at 480.965.1234, TTY 480.965.9000, located at the Tempe campus. West campus students should contact the Disability Resource Center at 602.543.8145, TTY 602.543.4327 at the West campus. DRS and DRC are responsible for making decisions regarding appropriate accommodations. Individual academic units should not discuss accommodations with students without first consulting with DRS and DRC.


Where should an employee go to request an accommodation for a disability?

Any ASU employee, at any campus, who is requesting an accommodation for a disability should be directed to contact the Office of Equity and Inclusion at 480.965.5057, TTY 480.965.0471. The Office serves as the University's ADA coordinator and will discuss with both the employee and department or college within which the employee works the availability of reasonable accommodations, including auxiliary aids and services, for the employee's respective disability or disabilities. Individual supervisors may also initiate questions to the office.


Where can I get help in designing an accessible Web site?

First check with your local computer support person or office. In addition to local and online resources, the following units may offer training and additional information on Web site development:


Who can help me make an existing Web site more accessible?

Again, contact your local support person or the units listed above.


Who can assist in making a chat room experience accessible to all students?

Contact ASU Disabilty Resource Center and/or UOEEE Teaching and Learning for questions about requirements and assistance in making a chat room experience accessible to all students.


What should I do if someone complains about not being able to access an ASU Web site?

If a student is concerned about gaining access to instructional materials or class related electronic interactions such as chat rooms, the student should contact Disability Resources for Students. Employee concerns may be addressed to the Office of Equity and Inclusion. Other complaints should be addressed to the campus unit or individual responsible for the Web site in question. Questions or concerns of a more general nature that do not relate to access by a particular student or employee may be forwarded to the Digital Strategy Board. If the unit or individual is not able to address the concern, the complaint may be forwarded to the Office of General Counsel.


What is "Section 508" and does it apply to ASU?

"Section 508" is a shorthand reference to Section 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act, 29 U. S. C. § 794(d). This federal law requires, with some limited exceptions, that federal agencies purchase only electronic and information technology that is accessible to persons with disabilities. Section 508 applies to federal agencies and to educational institutions performing information technology services on behalf of the government. Section 508 does not otherwise apply to ASU.

ASU is, however, bound by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. As it applies to ASU, Section 504 provides that no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of that disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of ASU's services, programs or activities or be subjected to discrimination by ASU. The experiences of federal agencies striving to comply with Section 508 will be instructive for ASU as we take appropriate steps to comply with section 504.


What is GITA and how does it affect ASU?

The Arizona Government Information Technology Agency ("GITA") has adopted Web accessibility guidelines for all state agencies, boards and commissions. The GITA guidelines do not apply to universities, community colleges, or the legislative and judicial branches of state government. These guidelines may, however, provide useful information for ASU as we pursue our goals for Web site accessibility.


Where can I get additional information on Web site accessibility?

More information on Web site accessibility can be found at the UTO help-center Web site (search "assistive technology" and/or "JAWS," and/or the specific software program name, for relevant articles) as well as the Disability Resource Center's information about Alternative Format Services and Resources.


Some of the legal material found at this site has been abridged from laws, regulations, court decisions, administrative rulings, ABOR and ASU policies and other sources. Further details may be necessary for complete analysis and understanding in particular matters. The information contained at this site, and related links, is not a substitute for professional legal counsel. Any discrepancy between the information at this site and ASU policy is not intended to alter or amend official ASU policy or procedure.

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