Office of Institutional Equity names Web Accessibility Award recipients

July 31, 2014  


The Office of Institutional Equity has announced the 2014 Web Accessibility Award recipients: the Purdue University Calumet home page and the Purdue Extended Campus Web Accessibility Scanner.

Purdue's Web Accessibility Awards were initiated in 2011 as a way to recognize colleges, schools, departments, programs and units that have made great strides in meeting or exceeding the University's standards for accessible Web design while demonstrating excellence in design and communication. 

The Purdue University Calumet home page (http://webs.purduecal.edu), developed and maintained by the Office of Marketing and Communications, not only meets the University's standard for accessible Web design, it exceeds it by using Web Accessibility Initiative-Accessibility of Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA). WAI-ARIA defines a way to make Web content and Web applications more accessible to people with disabilities. It especially helps with dynamic content and advanced user interface controls developed with Ajax, HTML, JavaScript, and related technologies.

Currently certain functionality used in websites is not available to some users with disabilities, especially people who rely on screen readers and people who cannot use a mouse. WAI-ARIA addresses these accessibility challenges, for example, by defining new ways for functionality to be provided to assistive technology. With WAI-ARIA, developers can make advanced Web applications accessible and usable to people with disabilities.

Additionally, the selection committee noted that the home page is visually appealing, clean and well-organized, making it user-friendly. The banner slideshow includes a pause button that gives users the ability to stop a slide and read the information. The site tags images with alternative text to improve accessibility, and it is also accessible to keyboard-only users. According to the committee, the Purdue University Calumet home page is an excellent example of how visual design and Web accessibility can work together to provide information to all users in an efficient and well-designed manner. 

The Purdue Extended Campus Web Accessibility Scanner (https://www.pec.purdue.edu/webaccessibility/) is a free tool that allows users to scan Web pages for issues detailed by the Section 508 guidelines for Web accessibility. It was created to aid Purdue Web developers in conforming to a common Web accessibility standard. The scanner's simple and clean design makes it easy to find errors in Web pages and to take steps to correct them. 

Some highlights of the tool include keyboard-only navigation that includes pop-ups and an enlarge page function. The selection committee noted that it stands out from other Web accessibility checkers with its straightforward explanation of errors that includes why it is important to fix a particular error as well as how to fix it.

The monetary award of $1,000 will assist each of these recipients in furthering their efforts in accessible Web design. These awards are sponsored by a grant from Google and the Office of the Vice President for Ethics and Compliance.

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