College Makes Accessibility a Priority
The De Anza College website earned the No. 1 ranking for accessibility, outscoring the nation’s leading universities and community colleges, in a comparison by a commercial website evaluator.
The college website at deanza.edu scored significantly better than others in the top ten – including websites for such prestigious schools as Johns Hopkins University and Carnegie Mellon – in a review to determine which sites are more easily used by people with disabilities.
The rankings were compiled by Rocket Validator, a commercial auditing service that evaluates websites for compliance with accepted accessibility standards, designed to ensure that people with diverse abilities can make full use of the web.
Among other things, those standards require that webpages use appropriate headlines, fonts and captions for all photos and visual elements – so, for example, a visually impaired person using an electronic text-to-speech reader can access the same information that others find on the page.
“Accessibility supports social inclusion ... It is essential that the web be accessible in order to provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with diverse abilities,” according to the Web Accessibility Initiative, a campaign led by the global consortium responsible for technical standards that enable the World Wide Web to function.
Accessibility is also a legal requirement under the Americans with Disabilities Act and federal rules governing schools and other publicly funded institutions.
De Anza’s Office of Communications has made accessibility a priority for the college website, which was completely redesigned last year. The new design includes numerous features that improve accessibility. The communications office Web Team uses Rocket Validator and other tools to proactively identify and correct any accessibility problems that might arise when pages are updated or new webpages are added.
Rocket Validator examined the websites for 40 leading colleges and universities, drawn from the top academic rankings by U.S. News and the Chronicle of Higher Education. The company scored each site by using auditing software to identify errors and “access barriers” on a sampling of webpages. A lower score meant fewer errors – and a higher ranking.
After initially including only four-year schools, Rocket Validator expanded its “leader board” in December to include community colleges. Since then, De Anza has ranked first with a score of 0.15, compared with a score of 4.68 for the second-ranked University of Wisconsin-Madison and 23.92 for tenth-ranked Rice University.