What is accessibility? Why does it matter?
Online or web accessibility is the inclusive practice of removing barriers to ensure that everyone has equal access to perceive, understand, engage, navigate and interact with all online content, including websites, web applications, online documents (Word, PDF, etc.) and online course materials.
An online document or tool is considered accessible when it can be easily understood and used by everyone, regardless of the browser or assistive technology being used.
The Importance of Accessibility
The Internet has become an increasingly important resource for all areas of life, including education. Michigan State University is committed to ensuring that the audience we serve are provided with accessible websites and documents in the classroom, workplace, research labs, and places for recreation.
The MSU Web Accessibility Policy
In July of 2008, the MSU community was informed that they must move towards compliance with the university's Web Accessibility Policy. MSU employees were asked to update all university Web pages used to conduct university business or academic activities to meet the Web Accessibility Technical Guidelines of the policy outlined in Section I over the past five years.
CANR and CSUS Five-Year Compliance Plan
The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources has submitted a Five-Year Accessibility Compliance Plan as required by MSU, which lays out the roadmap for accessibility compliance. This plan covers all units within the college.
You can read the CSUS five-year plan (completed in August 2019) here.
What it impacts?
- Websites (developers and editors): All public facing sites that showcase the work we do within or without the msu.edu domain.
- Courses (professors): All university courses with online courses being the most vulnerable.
- Emails to students.
Types of content impacted
All content posted on websites and used within courses, including:
- Graphics, images and tables;
- Videos; and
MSU has developed a web accessibility website to act as a central location for university resources regarding accessibility including a basic checklist for online content accessibility. The basic checklist serves as a starting point for understanding accessibility and beginning to review your online content for compliance with MSU’s Web Accessibility Policy.
Online Accessibility Resources (Internal)
- MSU Web Accessibility website.
- MSU Basic Accessibility Checklist.
- MSU Accessibility Tutorials.
- MSU Accessibility Templates.
- MSU Accessibility Help and Resources.
- MSU Captioning Resources.
- MSU Accessibility Evaluation and Validation Tools.
- MSU Instructor Led and Self-Paced Trainings, Classes, and Workshops.
- MSU Faculty Accessibility Questions about Digital Content.
- MSU Libraries - Stable Links for Electronic Resources (course required reading materials).
- MSU Extension - Web Accessibility & Captioning of Videos.
Online Accessibility Videos and Trainings (External)
- Making Your Website Accessible by Extension
- Demystifying WCAG 2.0: An Intro to Web, Office, InDesign, PDF Accessibility by 3PlayMedia.
- Webinars on Various Accessibility Topics by 3PlayMedia.
- Video - Accessibility 101: Web Headings by SSB Bart.
- Lynda.com Accessibility Training Courses (Subscription Required).
- Canvas.net Free Courses (Search Accessibility).
- Accessibility 101 Recorded Webinar by Deque.
Online Accessibility Checklists and Tools (External)
- Principles of Accessible Design List by WebAIM.
- National Center for Disability and Access to Education Accessibility Cheatsheets.
- Document Accessibility Toolbar for Microsoft Word.
- PDF Accessibility Checker (Advanced Users).
The Verified Individualized Services and Accommodations (VISA) is the primary method of documentation that enables students to validate and communicate their needs to faculty as determined via a thorough assessment of needs by the MSU Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities. A similar form of documentation is called a VISTA and performs the same functions for students with conditions of a temporary nature.
Help and Points of Contact
Your primary point of contact for accessibility will be the department’s web accessibility policy liaison. The department liaison will be able to answer questions regarding accessibility, as well as direct you to available resources.
ANR and MSU Phone Tree
If you have been contacted by a student and you need immediate/emergency assistance regarding the accessibility of your content, it is important that you continue to contact college and university resources until you speak with someone directly, beginning with the department’s accessibility liaison.
The liaison for the Department of Community Sustainability is Lindsay Mensch.
If the department liaison is unavailable or unable to assist you, the following ANR and MSU points of contact are also available to you:
- ANR Communications & Marketing:
- MSU Extension:
- ANR Web Accessibility Policy Liaisons - including departments.
- ANR Request for Course Accommodation - Point of Contact Assistance.
- ANR Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
- Teaching and Learning Technology - Digital Content and Accessibility (Courses).
- Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD).
- Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives (I3).
- IT Services Technology Training.
- IT Services Support.
- Office of Faculty and Organizational Development (FOD) - Universal Design Resources.
- Usability/Accessibility Research and Consulting (UARC).