Topic: From Princeton to Georgetown: A survey of web accessibility initiatives at 20 top-ranked US universities

  • This informal review started with the question, "How do the best universities approach digital accessibility?" and used the U.S. News 2018 rankings as the proxy for "best". The top 20 university websites were scanned for a few simple parameters: a landing page about digital accessibility, training and online resources, accessibility policies, checklists.
  • The very top schools have an impressive web presence for their programming on accessibility; unfortunately there are also many in the second dozen that have only token statements of support, or nothing at all that is easily findable via site search or Google search.
  • Most units working on accessibility are affiliated with central IT, and in some exceptional cases are strong enough to be independent units within IT; in the worst scenarios, there is an independent user group unaffiliated with any formal structure - or nothing at all.
  • Most schools have a centrally supported Drupal-based CMS for the core web presence needs, and focus their efforts on web accessibility on supporting those systems rather than all available web publishing solutions.
  • In terms of training and resources, the best schools have custom developed resources and regular training sessions for faculty and staff; the schools with the least support provide links to WebAIM and stop there.
  • There seems to be very little formal effort around native user testing - at least not in a systematic way like we do it here at CU Boulder
  • There are some resources around accessible online course content, especially at MIT has invested so much in open online education. Perhaps there isn't much to be found because a lot of these resources are behind a password wall in knowledge bases and LMS platforms.
  • As much as we dislike them around here, checklists are very popular.
  • During the discussion of the results, participants came up with a list of another 15 universities to review in the future - either because they are familiar to us or because they are similar to CU Boulder / CU System.