Tennessee House Bill 1857 (Senate Bill 1692) established the need for minimum accessibility criteria for informational materials and related technology used by institutions of higher education. To adhere to the minimum Web Content Accessibility Guideline 2.0 A & ADA recommendations provided by the Tennessee Board of Regents to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the following criteria must be met:
Make sure content is clearly written and easy to read.
There are many ways to make your content easier to understand. Write clearly, use clear fonts, and use headings and lists appropriately.
Provide appropriate document structure
Headings, lists, and other structural elements provide meaning and structure to web pages. They can also facilitate keyboard navigation within the page.
Ensure links make sense out of context
Every link should make sense if the link text is read by itself. Screen reader users may choose to read only the links on a web page. Certain phrases like “click here” and “more” must be avoided.
Provide appropriate alternative text
Alternative text provides access to non-tent content (such as images) in web pages. It is especially helpful for people who are blind and rely on a screen reader to have the content of a website read to them.
Do not rely on color alone to convey meaning
The use of color can enhance comprehension, but do not use color alone to convey information. That information may not be available to a person who is colorblind and will be unavailable to screen reader users.
Create accessible data tables
Tables should be used to organize data, not layout, and should use either the “scope” or “header and id” attributes for easier navigation with assistive technology.
Caption and/or provide transcripts for media
Videos must have captions and audio description. A text transcription must accompany all audio files.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
The ADA is a civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation. There are some provisions of the ADA that directly affect higher education. Title II applies to public universities and Title III applies to private universities. The ADA clearly states that communications with persons with disabilities must be “as effective as communications with others.” The Office of Civil Rights has defined this effectiveness to include three components:
- Timeliness of delivery
- Accuracy of the translation
- Provision in a manner and medium appropriate to the significance of the message and the abilities of the individual with the disability
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
This legislation is applicable to all universities that receive federal funding. It states: “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
In 1998, Section 508 was added to the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities and requires that Federal agencies’ electronic and information technology is accessible to people with disabilities. While Section 508 does not directly apply to NSCC, it provides technical standards for accessibility.