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Web Accessibility Standards


Rationale

People with or without disabilities have different degrees of capabilities, software, and hardware that they use to access resources on Web sites. Users with disabilities may not be able to see, hear, or process some types of information; may have difficulty reading or understanding text; or may not have or be able to use a keyboard or mouse. Various estimates put the percentage of Web site visitors that have some kind of disability at 10 to 30 percent. The following are reasons why a Web site should be designed so that people with disabilities can easily use it. Designing for accessibility will:

History

Web accessibility became a popular issue in 1998 when Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was amended. It mandated that federal agencies and their contractors ensure that their Web sites were fully accessible to persons with disabilities. Section 508 incorporates sixteen rules for Web-based intranet and internet information and applications. Of the sixteen rules, eleven were adopted directly from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) that had been recently developed by the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).

Section 508 was the first comprehensive federal law that specifically outlined how Web sites must be developed. Other laws had previously begun to establish compelling reasons for Web site accessibility as a means for improving general access. For example:

While many individuals and organizations have become familiar with the concept of “accommodation” that other laws reference, Section 508 is unique in that the law actually dictates specific accessibility development requirements for Web sites.

The California Department of Education (CDE) adopted its first set of accessibility standards in 2001, which were based almost entirely on the Version 1.0 Checkpoints from the W3C WCAG.

In 2003, the State of California enacted Government Code (GC) Section 11135, requiring all of its agencies and departments to comply with federal Section 508.

CDE Web Accessibility Standards

All of the CDE’s Web products (Web sites, Web applications, Web pages/documents, or other Web-related objects) , including those that are public or private, housed internally or externally, or developed by staff or contractors; must comply with the following CDE Web Accessibility Standards, which are meant to assure the Department’s continuing compliance with GC 11135.

In addition to the following accessibility standards, the CDE has developed additional Web standards that apply under a variety of circumstances. These additional standards that govern approval, design, security, writing, and Web application development and design, may further extend and clarify these Accessibility Standards.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Version 1.0 Checkpoints

Because GC 11135 requires compliance with Section 508, and because Section 508 explicitly adopts W3C WCAG Version 1.0 Checkpoints, the CDE Web Accessibility Standards have and continue to be based upon WCAG Version 1.0 Checkpoints.

Implementing the checkpoints for all CDE Web products is the responsibility of the administration staff of the CDE along with staff, contractors, and all others doing work on behalf of the CDE.

The following actions taken by all Web Contributors, contract monitors, contractors, and others working on behalf of the CDE, will ensure compliance with W3C WCAG Version 1.0 Checkpoints:

  1. Utilize the checkpoints during all phases of the Web-related project, including:
    1. Concept
    2. Procurement
    3. Requirements
    4. Design
    5. Development
    6. Test
    7. Pilot
    8. Operations and Maintenance
  2. Attend appropriate training, whether internal or external, to become familiar with accessibility laws, techniques, and tools.
  3. Update Web products when the CDE Web Accessibility Standards change or when the WAI WCAG Checkpoints change.

Each checkpoint has a priority level assigned by the WAI based on the checkpoint's impact on accessibility. For all CDE Web products, those responsible:

Checkpoints Checklist

This section is a reproduction of the appendix to the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (Outside Source). It provides a list of all checkpoints organized by concept. The numbers at the beginning of each checkpoint are cross-referenced with the WAI guidelines. Some checkpoints specify a priority level that may change under certain (indicated) conditions.

Priority 1 Checkpoints

In General [Priority 1]

1.1 Provide a text equivalent for every non-text element (e.g., via "alt", "longdesc", or in element content). This includes : images, graphical representations of text (including symbols), image map regions, animations (e.g., animated GIFs), applets and programmatic objects, ascii art, frames, scripts, images used as list bullets, spacers, graphical buttons, sounds (played with or without user interaction), stand-alone audio files, audio tracks of video, and video.

2.1 Ensure that all information conveyed with color is also available without color; for example, from context or markup.

4.1 Clearly identify changes in the natural language of a document's text and any text equivalents (e.g., captions).

6.1 Organize documents so they may be read without style sheets. For example, when an HTML document is rendered without associated style sheets, it must still be possible to read the document.

6.2 Ensure that equivalents for dynamic content are updated when the dynamic content changes.

7.1 Until user agents allow users to control flickering, avoid causing the screen to flicker.

14.1 Use the clearest and simplest language appropriate for a site's content.
And if you use images or image maps [Priority 1]

1.2 Provide redundant text links for each active region of a server-side image map.

9.1 Provide client-side image maps instead of server-side image maps except where the regions cannot be defined with an available geometric shape.

And if you use tables [Priority 1]

5.1 For data tables, identify row and column headers.

5.2 For data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers, use markup to associate data cells and header cells.

And if you use frames [Priority 1]

12.1 Title each frame to facilitate frame identification and navigation.

And if you use applets and scripts [Priority 1]

6.3 Ensure that pages are usable when scripts, applets, or other programmatic objects are turned off or not supported. If this is not possible, provide equivalent information on an alternative accessible page.

And if you use multimedia [Priority 1]

1.3 Until user agents can automatically read aloud the text equivalent of a visual track, provide an auditory description of the important information of the visual track of a multimedia presentation.

1.4 For any time-based multimedia presentation (e.g., a movie or animation), synchronize equivalent alternatives (e.g., captions or auditory descriptions of the visual track) with the presentation.

And if all else fails [Priority 1]

11.4 If, after best efforts, you cannot create an accessible page, provide a link to an alternative page that uses W3C technologies, is accessible, has equivalent information (or functionality), and is updated as often as the inaccessible (original) page.
Priority 2 Checkpoints

In General [Priority 2]

2.2 Ensure that foreground and background color combinations provide sufficient contrast when viewed by someone having color deficits or when viewed on a black-and-white screen. [Priority 2 for images, Priority 3 for text].

3.1 When an appropriate markup language exists, use markup rather than images to convey information.

3.2 Create documents that validate to published formal grammars.

3.3 Use style sheets to control layout and presentation.

3.4 Use relative rather than absolute units in markup language attribute values and style sheet property values.

3.5 Use header elements to convey document structure and use them according to specifications.

3.6 Mark up lists and list items properly.

3.7 Mark up quotations. Do not use quotation mark up for formatting effects such as indentation.

6.5 Ensure that dynamic content is accessible or provide an alternative presentation or page.

7.2 Until user agents allow users to control blinking, avoid causing content to blink (i.e., change presentation at a regular rate, such as turning on and off).

7.4 Until user agents provide the ability to stop the refresh, do not create periodically auto-refreshing pages.

7.5 Until user agents provide the ability to stop auto-redirect, do not use mark up to redirect pages automatically. Instead, configure the server to perform redirects.

10.1 Until user agents allow users to turn off spawned windows, do not cause pop-ups or other windows to appear and do not change the current window without informing the user.

11.1 Use W3C technologies when they are available and appropriate for a task and use the latest versions when supported.

11.2 Avoid deprecated features of W3C technologies.

12.3 Divide large blocks of information into more manageable groups where natural and appropriate.

13.1 Clearly identify the target of each link.

13.2 Provide metadata to add semantic information to pages and sites.

13.3 Provide information about the general layout of a site (e.g., a site map or table of contents).

13.4 Use navigation mechanisms in a consistent manner.

And if you use tables [Priority 2]

5.3 Do not use tables for layout unless the table makes sense when linearized. Otherwise, if the table does not make sense, provide an alternative equivalent (which may be a linearized version).

5.4 If a table is used for layout, do not use any structural mark up for the purpose of visual formatting.

And if you use frames [Priority 2]

12.2 Describe the purpose of frames and how frames relate to each other if it is not obvious by frame titles alone.

And if you use forms [Priority 2]

10.2 Until user agents support explicit associations between labels and form controls, for all form controls with implicitly associated labels, ensure that the label is properly positioned.

12.4 Associate labels explicitly with their controls.

And if you use applets and scripts [Priority 2]

6.4 For scripts and applets, ensure that event handlers are input device-independent.

7.3 Until user agents allow users to freeze moving content, avoid movement in pages.

8.1 Make programmatic elements such as scripts and applets directly accessible or compatible with assistive technologies [Priority 1 if functionality is important and not presented elsewhere, otherwise Priority 2.]

9.2 Ensure that any element that has its own interface can be operated in a device-independent manner.

9.3 For scripts, specify logical event handlers rather than device-dependent event handlers.

Priority 3 Checkpoints

In General [Priority 3]

4.2 Specify the expansion of each abbreviation or acronym in a document where it first occurs.

4.3 Identify the primary natural language of a document.

9.4 Create a logical tab order through links, form controls, and objects.

9.5 Provide keyboard shortcuts to important links (including those in client-side image maps), form controls, and groups of form controls.

10.5 Until user agents (including assistive technologies) render adjacent links distinctly, include non-link, printable characters (surrounded by spaces) between adjacent links.

11.3 Provide information so that users may receive documents according to their preferences (e.g., language, content type, etc.)

13.5 Provide navigation bars to highlight and give access to the navigation mechanism.

13.6 Group related links, identify the group (for user agents), and, until user agents do so, provide a way to bypass the group.

13.7 If search functions are provided, enable different types of searches for different skill levels and preferences.

13.8 Place distinguishing information at the beginning of headings, paragraphs, lists, etc.

13.9 Provide information about document collections (i.e., documents consisting of multiple pages.).

13.10 Provide a means to skip over multiline ASCII art.

14.2 Supplement text with graphic or auditory presentations where they will facilitate comprehension of the page.

14.3 Create a style of presentation that is consistent across pages.

And if you use images and image maps [Priority 3]

1.5 Until user agents render text equivalents for client-side image map links, provide redundant text links for each active region of a client-side image map.

And if you use tables [Priority 3]

5.5 Provide summaries for tables.

5.6 Provide abbreviations for header labels.

10.3 Until user agents (including assistive technologies) render side-by-side text correctly, provide a linear text alternative (on the current page or elsewhere) for all tables that lay out text in parallel, word-wrapped columns.

And if you use forms [Priority 3]

10.4 Until user agents handle empty controls correctly, include default, place-holding characters in edit boxes and text areas.

Multimedia

The preceding WCAG Version 1 Checkpoints include the following Priority 1 items for multimedia files:

1.3 Until user agents can automatically read aloud the text equivalent of a visual track, provide an auditory description of the important information of the visual track of a multimedia presentation.

1.4 For any time-based multimedia presentation (e.g., a movie or animation), synchronize equivalent alternatives (e.g., captions or auditory descriptions of the visual track) with the presentation.

11.4 If, after best efforts, you cannot create an accessible page, provide a link to an alternative page that uses W3C technologies, is accessible, has equivalent information (or functionality), and is updated as often as the inaccessible (original) page.

Because the above-mentioned Checkpoints lack a certain degree of specificity, we have clarified them below. Please use the following multimedia standards when posting, or linking to any audio, video, or audio/video presentation. This applies to the CDE Web site, or any other Web site, including contractor-developed or hosted sites.

Audio Files

All audio files must have text transcripts. Transcripts must be in a Web page format (e.g., HTML) format unless they exceed 15 screens in length, in which case the transcripts can be published alternatively as a Microsoft Word document.

Presentation Files

Narrated PowerPoint (PPT), Macromedia Flash (recorded Breeze meetings, Captivate presentations, etc.), Impatica, or other presentations with audio must have a separate text transcript. Transcripts must be in a Web page format (e.g., HTML) format unless they exceed 15 screens in length, in which case the transcripts can be published alternatively as a Microsoft Word document.

Video Files

Videos must have a separate collated text transcript, which is defined in the next section (a text transcript will do if there is only one person talking and there is no action). Transcripts must be in a Web page format (e.g., HTML) format unless they exceed 15 screens in length, in which case the transcripts can be published alternatively as a Microsoft Word document. Additionally, videos to be posted for longer than six months must have captions that are synchronized with the presentation.

Synchronized audio (or auditory) descriptions, which are referred to in the CDE Web Accessibility Standard 1.3 above, are defined by the W3C as “Additional audio narration that explain important details that cannot be understood from the main soundtrack alone. During pauses in dialog, audio descriptions of video provide information about actions, characters, scene changes and on-screen text to people who are blind or visually impaired.” The W3C further states in its Core Techniques for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, Item 14, that “If there is no important visual information, for example, an animated talking head that describes (through prerecorded speech) how to use the site, then an auditory description is not necessary.” At this time, the CDE does not require synchronized audio descriptions. Instead, the CDE requires appropriate text transcripts, which are discussed below.

Standards for Transcripts

All transcripts must include the following information at the top of the Web page or document:

• Name of the multimedia presentation
• Speaker name(s)
• Location
• Date

Text Transcript Standards

A text transcript is a text version of the audio track of an audio, video or other type of multimedia file. Transcripts must be in a Web page format (e.g., HTML) format unless they exceed 15 screens in length, in which case the transcripts can be published alternatively as a Microsoft Word document.

Collated Text Transcript Standards

A collated text transcript includes spoken dialogue as well as any other significant sounds including on-screen and off-screen sounds, music, laughter, applause, etc. In other words, all of the text that appears in captions as well as all of the descriptions provided in the auditory description. If multiple speakers are involved in the presentation, then each speaker should be identified in the transcript prior to the audio text.

Collated Text Transcript Example

Below is a simple example of a collated text transcript of a clip from "The Lion King". Note that the describer is providing the auditory description of the video track and that the description has been integrated into the transcript.

Simba: Yeah!

Describer: Simba races outside, followed by his parents. Sarabi smiles and nudges Simba gently toward his father. The two sit side-by-side, watching the golden sunrise.

Mufasa: Look Simba, everything the light touches is our kingdom.

Simba: Wow.

Standard Non-Web Page Formats for CDE Web Sites

In order to ensure that CDE Web sites remain accessible, the CDE has established standard formats for all non-Web page files on our sites. Non-Web page files in other formats will not be posted on CDE Web sites.

Unless stated elsewhere in this Accessibility Standards document or in one of the other CDE Web standards documents, the CDE does not require that these standard formats be used on non-CDE Web sites, which are Web sites that do not include “cde” in the domain name and/or Web sites that do not have the same “look and feel” as the CDE Web site.

Though the CDE does not require that non-CDE Web sites exclusively use these formats, the CDE will not migrate non-Web pages to our sites under any circumstances or due to any eventuality (including contract default or non-renewal) unless the non-Web pages meet all of the applicable CDE Web standards and are provided in these standard formats.

The standard formats are:

Format Non-Web Function/Type File Extension
Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Printing PDF
Adobe Flash Animated or interactive graphics SWF
Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet XLS
Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation PPT
Microsoft Word Word Processing DOC
Windows Media Video Video WMV
Windows Media Audio, or Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) Audio Layer 3 Audio WMA, MP3

References

Legal

California Government Code Section 11135 (Outside Source)

Federal Section 508 (Outside Source)

California State

Accessibility Standards for California State Web Pages (Outside Source; PDF; 236KB; 56pp.)

Usability Standards for California State Web Pages (Outside Source)

Separating Content from Presentation Standards for California State Web Pages (Outside Source; PDF; 162KB; 21pp.)

California State Web Tools (Outside Source)

California State eServices Office (Outside Source)

Accessible Technology Initiative - California State University System (Outside Source)

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

W3C (Outside Source)

W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) (Outside Source)

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Version 1.0 (Outside Source)

Other Resources

CDE Clearinghouse for Specialized Media and Technology (Outside Source)

HTML Writers Guild (Aware site) (Outside Source)

Jakob Nielsen (Usability Consultant) (Outside Source)

Trace Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (Outside Source)

University of Washington Accessibility Resources (Outside Source)

Web AIM (Outside Source)

Web Developers Virtual Library (Outside Source)

WebXact / Bobby Online Validator (Based on W3C WAI) (Outside Source)

Questions:   Web Services Office | tsdweb@cde.ca.gov
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