UMBC is committed to creating an accessible and inclusive environment for all faculty, staff, students, and visitors. Diversity and inclusion are fundamental values at UMBC, and we are committed to providing equal access to individuals of all levels of ability in each of our programs, activities, and services.
Making sure our university websites, emails, images, video, and writing are accessible to all who want to use them is just as important as any other aspects of planning these communications and marketing projects may involve.
If you are working on a web-based project for UMBC, please do all you can to ensure that accessibility is being considered. This applies not only to graphic design, but to writing, alt tagging images, captioning and/or transcribing videos, and making sure your social media images are accessible to all.
Screen readers are used by people who have no vision, but also by people who have low vision, and people who have cognitive impairments. This is why paying attention to design and content elements like color contrast and plain language are important.
How to Make Your Work More Accessible
Here are a few tips for easy, often-overlooked changes you can use to make your work more accessible to anyone who visits it.
- Alt tagging photos – www.w3.org describes alt tagging this way: “Imagine that you’re reading the web page aloud over the phone to someone who needs to understand the page. This should help you decide what (if any) information or function the images have.” Learn more here. It’s also a good idea to add image descriptions to your social media posts.
- Using H-level heading structures – Headings and subheads on a webpage should be created using H-level code (H1, H2, etc.) so screen readers can better interpret different kinds of type for the user. Learn more here.
- Including open or closed captioning on all video content.
- Using plain language – Follow best practices for clear and concise writing that puts your audience’s needs first. Learn more here.
Tools for the Work
- Alt Text: Not sure how best to write alt text? Here are some helpful links to explain it:
- https://www.w3.org/WAI/tutorials/images/tips/ (especially the first paragraph)
- Monitoring general web accessibility: UMBC offers access to Monsido to help web owners monitor accessibility on their sites. The tool can be useful in identifying lapses in use of alt text, broken links, etc., but can’t replace the human touch needed to judge particular uses.
If you have any difficulties accessing the information on a UMBC website, please do not hesitate to contact the website owner in order to remedy any identified challenges or provide an alternate format for access. For more information about creating accessible websites at UMBC, visit https://accessibility.umbc.edu/ and these other sites:
- UMBC’s Office of Accessibility and Disability Services
- University System of Maryland IT Accessibility Resources: https://www.usmd.edu/it-accessibility/resources
- The A11Y Style Guide: https://a11y-style-guide.com/style-guide/
- Mailchimp’s Guide to Writing for Accessibility: https://styleguide.mailchimp.com/writing-for-accessibility/
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) from w3.org