Sunday, December 3, marks the United Nations’ annual International Day of Persons with Disabilities – a day to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities at every level of society and development.
McGill’s Digital Communications team is celebrating the occasion by promoting its online accessibility tools, which were developed in collaboration with the Equity Team and the Office of Student Accessibility & Achievement.
“Web accessibility is more than just a list of steps we need to take,” says Joyce Peralta, Manager, Digital Communications. “It’s about making sure everybody can access our information, and helping people understand why it matters.”
Web accessibility is covered in Web Services’ WS-106 Web Accessibility training course, which is available to all 1,500 McGillians actively building McGill webpages. The next training takes place on Wednesday December 8, and registration is available on Minerva.
Web accessibility will also be highlighted at an IT community event for website editors on December 5, and a huddle event for communications staff on December 7. The event will include a demonstration of a screen reader, an assistive device used by people with vision disabilities to access websites.
“Screen readers are something people often ask about,” says Peralta. “We’ll show what our websites sound like to people navigating the web with an assistive device and how the experience relates to our best practices.”
The University’s collaborative efforts to meet web accessibility standards have already made a positive impact.
“One of our happiest experiences was during our last check-in with the Office of Student Accessibility & Achievement,” says Peralta. “They couldn’t remember the last time they’d received a complaint about web accessibility, and that was a very happy moment for us because it hasn’t always been the case.”
She credits Catherine Roy, Accessibility Advisor on the Equity Team, for much of the initiative’s success.
Accessibility will remain a priority to ensure everyone, including people with vision, hearing, and motor disabilities, can continue to access McGill content.
“There are a million different reasons why any of us, at various times, might become reliant on assistive devices. Creating accessible content can help us all because we can all potentially use accessible content.”