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Important accessibility updates for Cascade editors

Summary

As Cascade editors, there are a few action items for you to help improve the accessibility of our websites moving forward.

Full Description

Recently the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) initiated a directed investigation of the university regarding the accessibility of our web content. They were quick to point out that we are doing many things right. However, they shared several important ways we must improve.

As Cascade editors, there are a few action items for you to help improve the accessibility of our websites moving forward, particularly by using proper “alt text.” It is imperative that Cascade editors provide alt text that is brief, descriptive and can serve as a reasonable alternative to the image. This gives screen readers and those not able to load images something to work with.

Important updates:

  • Images: Be sure to fill in brief, descriptive alt text using the Display Name field when uploading images. We added a "Help Label" to the field to clarify this need. 
  • Photosets: While the legacy method of building photosets is still operational, for accessibility and compliance purposes, photosets should no longer be built that way moving forward. Using the newer method, photos are uploaded to your photoset folder, and the photoset file is edited to select your photos and add titles, captions, etc. The Display Name field on your image files should be reserved for providing descriptive alt text.
  • Documents: Make sure your PDFs and other documents are accessible before uploading them into Cascade. Never scan a page to create a PDF. In areas of your site linking to non-fillable forms, OCR recommends adding a supportive statement and contact information: "If you experience difficulties completing a form, please contact our office for assistance."
  • Tables: A table caption should be provided. The accessibility checker will help you add one if you miss this step while creating your page, however you can add it at any time.
  • Accessibility checker: Don’t ignore it. When you submit edits, Cascade's built-in content checker includes a report of some basic accessibility issues. Be sure to review and address any items that are flagged during this step.

General actions we should all be doing on our sites:

  • Hyperlink meaningful phrases rather than single words.
  • Give your images meaningful file names (all lowercase, no spaces).
  • Use proper heading structure. Screen reader and other assistive technology users have the ability to navigate web pages by heading structure, assuming true headings are used (as opposed to text that is styled to be big and/or bold).
  • Add closed captions to any video that gets incorporated on your site.

To learn more about the ways you can make your web content and documents more accessible, check out our help page.

Thank you for doing your part to make the university’s websites accessible to all!