“Universal design,” maintains Elaine Ostroff, “is not a trend, but an enduring design approach that assumes that the range of human ability is ordinary, not ‘special.’” All of us pass through stages where we gain and lose different abilities. Difference can include those we think of as physical, like diminished or enhanced vision, to those we classify as cognitive, such as ease or difficulty focusing on a task. Some difference may be temporary—a lack of focus may be caused by a lack of sleep—while others are permanent. No matter what abilities our visitors have, we want them to find the College website rich, functional, and easy to use. Accessibility and universal design standards help us make sure we meet that goal. In addition, we have legal obligations to make the site accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other code and regulations. The United States Department of Justice periodically checks our website to make sure we meet the requirements.
To maintain consistency and compliance with Federal regulations, you have the responsibility to follow the website standard by
- Following the standards described here and throughout the site.
- Avoiding hacks or work-arounds. Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should.
- Asking for additional formatting options (styles), special content types, or other, standards ways of doing things.
Why Should I Maintain the Standards?
- It's the right thing to do. Grinnell College has a long history of social justice and activism, and universal web design is consistent with that history.
- Many standards, such as using headings correctly, make the site easier for everyone to use. Others may be focused on the needs of a particular audience. Either way, following all standards makes it possible for us to create a site that is both easy to use and rich with valuable tools and content.
- Want to highlight a couple of sentences? Don't just make them a Heading 3. You cause problems for search engines, screen readers, people scanning the page, etc. Work with Webguys to come up with an approved highlight style. You'll benefit (you'll get a nice looking style that works everywhere and is easy to apply), other content owners will benefit (they'll get the same thing), and site visitors will benefit (they'll be able to easily skim the organization of the page, while still finding pertinent information).