Web Accessibility

Policy number: 8.5

Policy section: Information Technology

Revised Date: January 2, 2019

1.  Definitions

Definitions of capitalized terms are set forth in Appendix A.

2.  Policy Statement

The University employs a multi-faceted strategy to address the accessibility of its websites.  The Worldwide Web Consortium Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0, Level A Conformance (“WCAG 2.0 Level A”) is the University’s preferred accessibility standard for most content on websites.  For multimedia content, the University will use Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, as its preferred standard.  Standards comparable to WCAG 2.0 Level A and Section 508 may also be used as a guide to promoting accessible programs and activities.  

3.  Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations and enhance the University’s mission.

4.  Applicability

All faculty, students, staff, volunteers, contractors and visitors are expected to comply with University Policies, as applicable.

5.  Scope

For a University Website to be accessible under these principles, its content must be:

  1. Perceivable – Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
  2. Operable – User interface components and navigation must be operable.
  3. Understandable – Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.
  4. Robust – Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.

6.  Web Accessibility Committee

  1. The University has designated a Web Accessibility Committee, whose primary responsibility is to oversee compliance with these guidelines and to promote accessibility efforts across the enterprise.
  2. The Web Accessibility Committee will publish materials to aid content developers and communicators in developing and maintaining accessible websites.The Web Accessibility Committee periodically conducts and/or oversees a training and awareness program regarding the same.Questions about the feasibility and/or practicability of implementing any of the requirements in these guidelines should be directed to the Web Accessibility Committee.The Committee will issue materials for both New or Substantially Modified Web Pages as well as Existing Web Pages
    1. New or Substantially Modified Pages. After 180 days after the effective date of this policy, any SMU unit, division, or department that builds or substantially modifies its website must incorporate, to the extent feasible, accessibility standards into the build or re-build process.
    2. Existing Webpages. The Web Accessibility Committee will oversee a process of reviewing and addressing accessibility issues on certain priority websites including Tier 1 and Tier 2 websites.
      1. Tier 1 Websites include sites that contain essential information and on which critical transactions are performed.
      2. Tier 2 Websites include homepages (including the webpages in the primary navigation) of academic divisions, academic departments, and core administrative offices.The Web Accessibility Committee will publish a list of websites that fall into Tier 1 and 2.
  3. The Web Accessibility Committee will develop an initial remediation schedule for Tier 1 and 2 Websites and work with relevant units to identify and address any accessibility issues on those sites.
  4. The Web Accessibility Committee will oversee a process of conducting periodic accessibility reviews of Tier 1 and 2 Websites, after such sites have been remediated.The Committee will work with the owner of the websites to address, to the extent feasible, any accessibility issues identified through the review.
  5. In consultation with the Chief Information Officer (“CIO”) and other stakeholders, the Web Accessibility Committee may identify and publish other tiers of priority websites and adopt remediation and scanning schedules for such sites.
  6. Any University community member who encounters accessibility barriers to information on any of the University’s websites is encouraged to notify the Web Accessibility Committee, who will take reasonable efforts to bring the content into alignment with accessibility standards. Please understand that resources may dictate at any given time how accessible a particular application or website can be. Requests for change should be submitted to web-accessibility@SMU.edu (link is external).

7.  Vendors

The University requires vendors who develop and/or maintain its websites and web-based applications to demonstrate that their products meet accessibility standards to the extent practicable.  Vendors shall provide the results of accessibility testing and a description of the steps they are taking to bring their content into alignment with accessibility standards. University groups working with outside vendors will need to include web accessibility requirement within their scope of work or request for proposal.

8.  Exceptions

The CIO or designee may grant exceptions to this policy or related procedures on a case by case basis.

9.  Questions

The CIO or designee shall be responsible for interpretation of this policy, resolution of problems and conflicts with departmental policies, and special situations. The CIO may grant exceptions to this policy and/or standards after a formal review as provided below. 

Appendix A: Definitions

“CIO” refers to the Chief Information Officer of the University.

“Website” refers to electronic communications mediums such as web pages, digital signage, and web-based applications.

Revised: January 2, 2019

Adopted: January 2, 2019