ADA Compliance


The Department of History is dedicated to Universal Design and making all of its documents and web resources accessible to all—in all meanings of that word—for everyone, regardless of ability or need. We believe accessibility is not an implementation that can be finished and done, but rather a way of thinking and working that can—and should—always be improved. We strive to make the Department, its public face, and its courses, easy to access, and ADA-compliant, and work in conjunction with the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities to ensure accessibility. Please write to us with suggestions for improvements. For this website, we follow WCAG 2.0 and Section 508 guidelines, and encourage students to consider accessibility at every stage of project development. Our markup and presentation adhere to W3G‘s standards for HTML5 and CSS3, and in doing so include many features meant to enhance the accessibility of our site, including:

  • Correct ordering of headings to aid in navigation;
  • Alternative text for media where appropriate;
  • A skip link at the beginning of each page to jump to the page’s main content;
  • Text alternatives for image links.
We use several tools to assess accessibility on our site, including the Wave evaluation tool by WebAIM and HTML_CodeSniffer by Squiz.
If you have suggestions for improvement, or encounter anything that hinders your use of the content or tool we provide, please email us.

Key Links

Making Accessible Documents

Documents: Most of us do not think we have a role in accessibility — that is for web designers.  But that is simply not true.  We make documents every day that we put online for our students.   Creating accessible documents (MS Office, Google Apps, PDFs) is key to accessibility for all.  It not only makes our work more useful but it can save us time.  Think about updating your syllabus.

For us accessibility is all about Universal Design.  That is, while accessible design helps students with disabilities, in reality, it helps all students.  Universal design is inclusive design “and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.”

MSU has a good resource, Web Accessibility, that explains the importance of accessibility that includes tutorials, templates, and resources.  The University of Minnesota has an exceptional, media rich, well done site, Accessible U, that can be very helpful.  It has a nice section on making an accessible syllabus.

Check out a revised version of MSU Web Access syllabus for History: Online Course Syllabus Template.

While many consider the most important aspect of accessibility to be web sites, actually one of the most important areas is the everyday documents we distribute to students (e.g., MSword documents, PowerPoint slides, Excel spreadsheets, PDF documents).

MS Word and MS PowerPoint in Spartan 365 has Accessibility Checker built in — always use it!

Basics of Web Accessibility

Images:  You should add appropriate alternative text to every image, regardless of how it is coded. The alt text should describe the content or function of the image. Purely decorative images should have empty alt text.

Headers: Headings should be consistently used because they make the structure of your documents accessible to screen readers while improving both scannability and maintainability.

Contrast: Ensure a strong color contrast between foreground and background on every document, slide and web page. Always use color plus another visual indicator (for example, color plus boldface type or color plus size to communicate important information.

HTML and CSS: HTML is for communicating basic content. CSS should be used to style the content and control how the information is displayed.

Onfocus: The active area of the web page is the area targeted by the keyboard or activated by mouse click, and users should be able to tell what area is active through some sort of visual cue. Onfocus indicators included in some browsers are inconsistent, so you should be sure to add it via CSS.

Responsive: Able to shift size of font and responsive to different platforms, from desktop to smartphone.  Find responsive and ADA compliant WordPress Themes and use WP Accessibility Plugin or the Web Accessibility Helper plugin

Tables: Use tables to display data and CSS for page layout. Use the table tag <table> to define all tables, and the table caption tag <caption> to summarize the content displayed in it. Use the table heading tag <th> to identify cells that are either row or column headers.

University of Minnesota Apples
Name Season Introduction year
Beacon Early 1936
Haralson Late 1922
Sweet Sixteen Mid 1977

ARIA: Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) is a set of attributes that define ways to make Web content and Web applications (especially those developed with Ajax, JavaScript and more recent web technologies like Bootstrap) more accessible to people with disabilities. For example, ARIA enables accessible navigation landmarks, JavaScript widgets, form hints and error messages, live content updates, and more.

MS Word Accessibility Checker

A Summary of Some Accessibility Design Approaches

1. Include a welcoming access statement (explain course design and include suggested text)

2. Provide simple, consistent navigation. Apply Universal Design

3. File contents in digital files and websites should be keyboard accessible for access and navigation.

4. Use course file types in universal product formats.

5. Ensure that digital files are human accessible and machine-readable.

6. Properly name digital documents. Structure text documents.

7. Use clear, simple English. Make sure text is readable.

8. Describe graphics and visual elements. Label informational graphics with “alt text.”

9. Transcribe and label audio and video. Caption videos and audio clips.

10. Make accessible PowerPoint™ slideshows. Rethink, redesign PowerPoint presentations.
11. Use color in an accessible way. Use labels in addition to color. Use color with care.

12. Summarize and label data tables.

13. Support user control of automations and sequenced actions, as much as possible. Allow use control of time. Use time limitations reasonably and possibly even sparingly.

14. Plan live, online events to be accessible. Interact often (particularly first two weeks)