The University of Twente works hard to make its websites and (online) documents as accessible as possible. As an organization that is partly state funded, we are very much aware that we serve the public interest. In your role as an administrator of the university’s web pages, this is something of which you should also be aware.
By applying the government’s digital accessibility guidelines (DigiToegankelijk), websites and web applications (online office documents included) become accessible to the general audience (citizens, companies and other governments), employees and students. People with dyslexia and visual impairments (e.g. blindness, colour blindness) can have the same access to government information as people without these limitations. Accessibility is also becoming increasingly important to the elderly people who make up a large proportion of the population. Additionally, the way we take in online information (i.e. because of the use of tablets and smartphones) is changing because of developments in technology.
As an organization governed by public law, which serves the public interest and falls under the provisions of the General Administrative Law Act, the University of Twente must also comply with the Accessibility of Websites and Apps (Temporary Measures) Decree. (See also Article 1 of the Decree: https://zoek.officielebekendmakingen.nl/stb-2018-141.html – in Dutch only – which came into force on 1 July 2018).
The definitions (see above link) contain the elements which must comply with the rules of the Decree. These cover all content: the entire body of information that an organization wishes to transmit on a website or app, including text, downloadable documents, forms and interactive elements, such as the processing of digital forms and the completion of identification procedures. Article 2 of the Decree lists those elements which are NOT covered by the rules of the Decree.
A phased approach has been taken to implementation: see Article 6 of the Decree.
- Websites published from 23 September 2018 are required to comply by 23 September 2019.
- Websites published before 23 September 2018 are required to comply by 23 September 2020.
- Apps have to meet the criteria no later than 23 June 2021.
Comply or explain
Paragraphs 2-4 of Article 3 offer the option of refraining from applying standard EN 301 549 if this presents disproportionate problems for the organization. You can invoke this option if you are convinced that the expected benefits of applying the standard are outweighed by the organizational or financial costs involved. In our accessibility statement, we refer to the large number of managers (over than 1000) and the same number of websites. From an organizational perspective, this situation ensures that the University of Twente cannot guarantee complete accessibility despite its best efforts.
Office documents on websites published before 1 January 2015 do not have to be made accessible. Documents published online after 1 January 2015 do have to be made accessible. In this respect, no distinction is made between internal (intranet) documents and external documents.
Information on the website (and therefore also in Office documents online) must always be viewable, operable, comprehensible and well structured.
publisher (CMS) WebHare
- Remove what is no longer relevant. Otherwise you run the risk that the page the user is searching for will be difficult to find, especially if there are many similar documents or older versions on the website. Do you prefer not to delete any pages? Do not put the pages offline, but archive them on your computer.
- Upload as few files as possible to the website. Preferably you should make sure that the information is on a webpage, but not offered as a download.
- Buttons should have a certain minimum size so that people with limited motor skills (e.g. due to illness or medication) can click them easily.
- Photos on websites should always come with a description, so that users with a visual impairment can find out the content of the photo because their screen reader tells them what the text says.
- Always provide subtitles for videos content.
- Always open links in the same screen to avoid any problems with support programs. (If users want to open links in a new screen they can do this themselves by right-clicking).
- Do not list downloadable files in a website menu. If you want users to download files, it is best to provide this information in an accompanying sentence on screen. There are two ways of doing this:
- Option 1: Use the website component Download/Links (available as inline component or widget). Option 2: Save the downloadable file without a title in a folder in the Publisher and refer to it using a link.
- Option 2: Make sure that all pages also appear in the menu structure of the website. Otherwise it is not clear to users where they are on the website and how they can navigate to a higher or lower level.
- Make sure that every page on the website is visible in the menu as well. Otherwise it is not clear for users where they are on the website and how they are able to navigate through different levels.
- When you add a chart, do not make them too wide (preferably a maximum of 4 columns).
- Remove what is no longer relevant. Otherwise you run the risk that the document the user is searching for will be difficult to find, especially if there are many similar documents or older versions on the website.
- Preferably use the webform in WebHare instead of a form in a Word document.
- Word documents that you put online should be saved in .odt format (open document text) instead of .doc or .docx. Not everyone has the Office software you need, to open them. Same counts for Excel (save as .ods) and Powerpoint (.odp).
- In Acrobat Pro there is a tool (‘accessibility’) that can check whether your PDF is accessible. You can find it under Tools > Accessibility > Full check.
Making Office files perfectly accessible is a complicated business, but there are a number of quick wins that you can easily apply yourself. To do this, download Acrobat Pro in Zenworks.
- Title and other settings in Acrobat Pro:
- Correct title of the document (visible in your browser tab): To do this, see File > Properties.
- Contrast: There should be sufficient contrast between the text colour and background colour and this should not cause problems for users who cannot distinguish between certain colours.
- Images: always provide an alternative text that explains in a few words what can be seen in the photo.
- Bookmarks: To facilitate the addition of bookmarks, it is best if you ensure that your source document is well structured. If you work with Word, for example, you can use the correct intermediate headings (heading 1, heading 2, etc.) to create a bookmark. This will also be shown in your PDF later, provided you convert the PDF correctly. In Acrobat Pro you can also arrange this yourself at a later stage.
- Correct code layer: If you use multiple columns, you have to indicate the reading order that a screen reader should maintain. However, this is difficult to achieve if you are not a web designer. This is one of the reasons why professional brochures are prepared exclusively by the communication professionals from the Marketing & Communication department.
- Correct meta information
- Title display: In Properties under the 'Initial view' tab, you can arrange things so that the title of the document is displayed and not the file name. Language: In Properties under the 'Advanced' tab, you can also set the correct language.
Note: when converting a file to PDF format, do not use the PDF printer (File > Print > PDF), but go to File > Save as > choose file format PDF (or another export option in the menu).
The user has the right to receive an accessible document from the University of Twente and to request such a document if necessary. In the latter case, Marketing & Communication can help to make a document accessible. Refer to www.utwente.nl/accessibility at the top of the non-accessible document. This way, the available solution can be found. Decide yourself which documents need this mention.
- The accessibility requirements do not apply for Office documents published before 1 January 2015.
- Documents published on the intranet do not need to be made accessible retroactively. Consider doing this when uploading new documents.
The University of Twente has drawn up a concise accessibility statement describing the current efforts to make www.utwente.nl accessible.