Web and Online Accessibility

See the Kutztown University Guidelines to assist in taking steps to improve accessibility online:

Kutztown University of Pennsylvania is committed to achieving equal educational opportunity and participation for persons with disabilities. This commitment extends to providing equal access to information technology.  

The Electronic and Information Technology Access Task Force recommends four areas to begin to increase accessibility online:

1. PDFs & Other Documents

Generally, PDFs are inaccessible to screen readers, a type of software used by people with visual impairments or other print disabilities to read.  This happens most frequently when the source of the file is a scanned document, and the screen reader software interprets the PDF as a series of images.

We recommend that PDF files never be offered by themselves, but rather in combination with other formats, such as Microsoft Word documents, that present the same information in ways that are more widely accessible.

Please note: faculty or staff can have Adobe Acrobat Pro installed at no cost through the IT Help Center.

2. Video Captions

Videos should be captioned so that the deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may have access. It is important that when choosing videos for classes, use videos that provide captions or transcripts, such as Films on Demand, Academic Video Online, and Kanopy, through the Rohrbach Library's Streaming Video Collections.

Additionally, YouTube and Microsoft Stream both offer automatic captioning. However, it is important to note that any automatic captioning solution is not completely accurate, so it is important to review captions before publishing them. There are also free online tools that support captioning, such as Amara, and add-ons for Google Chrome and Microsoft PowerPoint.

3. Color Contrast

Color contrast measures the ratio of distance between background and foreground colors. The higher the contrast, the more readable the text is. When designing KU web pages, please consult the KU Logo and Color Guidelines.

For other materials, you can use the WebAIM Contrast Checker to verify minimum contrasts between background and foreground colors.

Don't know what colors you're using? The Google Chrome add-on, ColorZilla, will give you a color reading from any point in your browser window.

4. Add Alternate Text to Images

If an image is communicating something and adds meaning to your document, it should include text for those who aren't able to see it. Screen reading software will read aloud a picture on a page simply as "image" unless there is alternate text that it can read aloud instead. When developing an alternate text caption, try to be as specific as possible when stating what the image is trying to convey.

On the KU website, this accessibility feature has been included by University Relations.

With other materials, this can be accomplished by adding text to the appropriate box when inserting a picture into the program you are using. The resources here will guide you in adding alternate text in Adobe PDF and Microsoft Office.

Why do we need guidelines for accessibility?

To be in compliance with the law.

Laws that impact accessibility include:

  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires all employers and organizations receiving federal funds, including most universities, to provide people with disabilities equal access to information, programs, services and activities.
  • The 1998 Amendment to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act does not apply directly to universities, but it does mandate specific conditions for internet and web accessibility that are used as guidelines in designing and creating federal agency websites.
  • The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) of 1990 applies the same general principle as Section 504 - equal opportunity to participate in programs, activities, and services - but extends the reach to private organizations and any state or local entities not covered under Section 504.
  • Other laws, including Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, may also impact web-based instruction, and how institutions may use federal monies.
  • PA Standards: The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has chosen to follow Section 508 Web Accessibility Standards set forth by the Federal Government. As of June 30, 2001, all agencies under the Governor's jurisdiction were required to ensure websites (both existing and in development) comply with the above accessibility guidelines.

It's the right thing to do.

Information technology provides access to as many people as possible. It is only right, then, that the university community adapts supportive elements and/or removes barriers that keep some from gaining access.

Benefits of Adhering to Guidelines

Following standards, acquiring appropriate hardware and software, and improving the technical environment helps the university to:

  • Improve access and services to students, staff, faculty, and visitors with disabilities.
  • Make electronic information accessible to the widest possible audience.
  • Ensure that individuals have access to information technology associated with administration and services, courses of instruction, departmental programs, and university-sponsored activities.

Adapted from Kutztown University's Electronic & Information Technology Access Task Force (March 2014). Last updated: Summer 2021