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Information Technology and Telecommunications Services

FSU HomeITTSWeb StyleAccessibility

Accessibility Background

Citizens with disabilities are an underutilized resource in North Carolina. The advent of the World Wide Web and its ubiquitous use provides an unprecedented opportunity to allow many people with disabilities to participate more fully in society. By designing web sites to be accessible, the universities will not only meet the requirements established by the Americans with Disabilities Act, but will also foster greater equality among NC citizens. In addition, accessible web design is simply good design for all users of web sites.

Assistive technologies exist that allow users to access information in ways that best fit their needs. Screen reading software, for example, is used by many people (from persons with blindness to those with reading impairments) to access the information on the screen in an audio format. In these cases, access to the information hinges on proper text-based alternative markup. Some persons with mobility impairments use alternate input devices, which act in the place of the keyboard but not the mouse, meaning these users may not have access to mouse-driven events, like image roll-overs and drop-down menus.

Some users, like those with hearing impairments or color blindness, typically do not use Assistive technologies to access the Internet, but, rather, rely solely on the accessible design of the materials they need to use. Persons with deafness rely on multimedia captioning and transcriptions for access to audio information. Color blindness can make it difficult or impossible for some color combinations to be differentiated, and therefore, some users experience difficulty or complete barriers accessing information that is provided by color only.

In short, accessible design is universal design. A Web site should be equally usable by all people, regardless of their abilities, disabilities, or preferences. In addition to using assistive technologies, some users may access the Web with a different operating system or Web browser than the developer typically uses. Some people may even access Web sites with a PDA or other portable computing device, which may have limited rendering and processing abilities. Thus, the benefits of accessible design extend beyond allowing use by persons with disabilities, but enhance the overall effectiveness of the Web for all users.

Doing Our Part

The University is committed to providing equal access to web-based information in its programs and services in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans With Disabilities Act. All official University Web Pages associated with university administration, services, courses of instruction, programs, and activities must conform to the web accessibility standards and requirements listed below.

The following standards will apply to all university mission-related pages as described in the Web Style and Structure page, including course Web sites with enrolled students with disabilities:

  1. Development of all official University Web Pages must include reasonable efforts to conform to the accessibility standards required under the above referenced laws. (Those standards now are the Federal Access Board’s Electronic and Information Accessibility Standards: 36 CFR Part 1194.)
  2. Development of all official University Web Pages must include reasonable efforts to make the sites functional and usable for persons with disabilities.
  3. Development of all official University Web Pages should include a good faith effort to select linked sites which are accessible.
  1. An official University Web Page that is not accessible under the federal standards may be given an exemption provided that it meets one or more of the criteria listed below:
  1. Compliance is not reasonably attainable with current technology;
  2. The content cannot be effectively delivered in an accessible format without fundamentally altering the nature of the content; or
  3. The content is undergoing initial development; this exemption is limited to a six month development period.

In order for all FSU's Web pages to be viewed by all visitors, it is important to keep Web elements viewable by both Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers, and must meet at least Priority 1 ADA guidelines. View complete checklist.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

FSU strives to meet the guidelines set force by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium.

Common Priority 1 Compliant Requirement


Make sure tables will be read in the correct order by non-graphical browsers.

Data tables present relational data such as a bus schedule, a comparison of regional sales figures, or a listing of employee contact information.

Provide information about the table by using appropriate table markup (e.g., markup headers on data tables using the TH element; use the SUMMARY attribute; etc.).

For data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers, use appropriate markup to identify those divisions. [Show Me How]

Graphics and Multimedia

All images must include an ALT (alternative) tag. This provides an alternate text equivalent of graphics placed on a page. This allows visually impaired users using a specially designed software to hear a synthesized voice describing the graphic. In addition, users who choose not to view graphics on pages can read the ALT text that describes the graphic. This option is especially important to those visitors that have slow connections to the Internet. [Show Me How]

Example of an ALT tag:

Web Style and Structure of FSU's Website

A Constituent Institution of The University of North Carolina