Why Accessibility?

Why websites must be accessible

It makes learning much easier for students

Watch Portland Community College’s YouTube video To Care & Comply: Accessibility of Online Course Content to see how instructors can dramatically affect the ability of their students to learn.

It's beneficial to everyone

By incorporating the principles of accessibility into your website design, your Web pages will be better structured, easier to navigate, and available to people using assistive and other technologies, including PDAs and cell phones, and to those with low-bandwidth connections. These benefits are universal. Publishing information on the Web using methods that maximize rather than limit availability supports UIC’s mission to provide the broadest access to intellectual excellence. Web accessibility does not mean sacrificing good design for a “text-only” site. In fact, you should be able to keep an existing design or enhance it. The differences are in the underlying code that enables users to access the site with assistive and other technologies. Implementing Web accessibility techniques, such as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), can help Web designers maintain scalability. Developing accessible Web pages requires some planning in the design process. UIC is dedicated to providing the necessary training, tools, and technical support to help you incorporate accessibility into your design process.

It's University policy

The University of Illinois has a stated commitment to making its electronic information accessible to people with disabilities in compliance with applicable state and federal laws. The commitment includes making steady improvement as a campus to ensure we are compliant with the legal requirements as well as satisfying the mandate of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

It's the law

All public universities, including the University of Illinois Chicago, are mandated by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States… shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” The Office of Civil Rights is the watchdog of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and has indicated in its rulings that providing inaccessible Web sites is a form of discrimination. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is Civil Rights legislation passed in 1990 which reinforced the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 for public universities. Even though neither the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 nor the Americans with Disabilities Act specifically mention Web accessibility, inaccessible websites have been the target of lawsuits in recent years. Many believe the ADA’s requirement in Title II that communications with persons with disabilities must be “as effective as communications with others” would apply to the accessibility of websites. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act includes Web accessibility standards for the Federal government. Even though Section 508 does not directly impact our University, the standards developed show the importance of Web accessibility, and many other entities beyond the Federal government have accepted the 508 standards for Web accessibility.

The state of Illinois has enacted the Information Technology Accessibility Act. This legislation enacted August 20, 2007, applies to the University of Illinois at Chicago and requires our university to develop accessible Web pages. The Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act 2.0 Standards were released as the state standards for Web accessibility. For more information on this Act go to the State of Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act.