Web Accessibility is about reaching as much of our target audience as possible. According to the Department of Information Resources, “Electronic Information Resource [or EIR] accessibility means providing electronic information and services in a variety of ways that does not depend on a single sense or ability.” It allows those with mild, moderate, and sometimes even severe disabilities to access information on our site.

It’s the Law

When planning new web pages or sites, accessibility should always be considered. TAMHSC is committed to making our web pages equally accessible to all internet users, and we take care to adhere to standards established by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which outlines U.S. requirements for web accessibility, and Section 508 Subsection 1194.22 of the Rehabilitation Act, as well as Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) standards and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

With regard to accessibility, all CMS users should be aware of the needs of people with impairments involving vision, hearing, motor skills, cognitive ability and speech. TAMHSC encourages content providers to strive to make web pages equally accessible to everyone. For example, alternate text, a text equivalent for images, is a required attribute on all images so that vision-impaired users can experience our site. In Cascade Server, the alternate text field must be filled in before CMS users can continue. The text should be meaningful and relevant to the image it refers to.

Making Webpages Accessible

These design and web development tips regarding accessibility can be followed to make the TAMHSC site accessible to everyone:

  • Concise content is critical. 
  • Links should be meaningful and descriptive.
  • Avoid using PDF documents. By default, PDFs are not accessible to those with visual disabilities. PDFs may be included if they have been made accessible using the accessibility tools in Acrobat Pro or Equidox or if there is a webpage alternative that contains the same information. For more information contact web@health.tamu.edu.
  • Options within the site should not rely on color alone.
  • Forms should be accessible to all users and developed using the TAMHSC web form system. For more information contact web@health.tamu.edu.
  • Video captioning is required for all videos on the site.
  • Give options to users and do not force users to view pages in a certain way. For example, new pages should open in the same window, which gives the user the freedom to view them differently by adjusting their own browser settings.
  • Avoid using tables for page layout or design purposes. Tables can be used for displaying tabular data. If tables are used, add appropriate table headings – <th> tags to describe rows and columns, use the table summary attribute to describe the layout of the table and a caption to describe the content. Learn more about creating accessible tables from WebAIM.

Accessibility Benefits Everyone

Search engine rankings can be improved by utilizing good accessibility practices such as alt text tags and conversion of PDFs into web pages. All site visitors can benefit from better navigation through our site due to larger text, meaningful link text, descriptive tags and other information.

“Of computer users age 18 to 64, 57% benefit from accessible technology due to mild or severe impairments.”             

                                                             — Forrester Research, Inc.

For more information about this topic or accessibility policy, please contact webaccessibility@tamhsc.edu.

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