UMD Homepage Accessibility

September 20, 2011
Ian King

UMD Homepage

The UMD homepage is the flagship website for the University of Maryland. Prospective undergraduate students, graduate students, professors, donors, and anybody with any connection to the university will have to access the UMD homepage at some point or another. The WCAG provides four main criteria—Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust—for evaluating a website’s accessibility and although the University of Maryland’s homepage appears to be very pretty and professional, it only partially meets the necessary requirements.

Criteria 1: Perceivable -- Partial Implementation
  • 1.1 Provide alt text: Partial implementation -- many images appear on the sidebar which have alt text. However, none of the JS elements (such as the calendar, and Discover Maryland A-Z) are missing the alt text.
  • 1.3 Provide content for simpler layout: Unimplemented -- when the website is views as text only or styles disabled, it becomes an unreadable, cluttered mess. Everything turns into a giant list of partially ordered text and is very confusing.

Criteria 2: Operable -- Not Implemented
  • 2.1 Make all functionality available from a keyboard: Unimplemented -- the only portion of the website that is accessible from a keyboard is the search bar at the top of the screen. Every time the tab key is pressed, the focus should move to the next element on the page. Instead, it just cycles between the URL and the search bar.
  • 2.2 Provide enough time for users to read and use content: Not Applicable -- nothing moves on the page except for a slideshow of pictures near the top. Since those pictures don't contain any useful content, the user shouldn't have any problems with timing.
  • 2.3 Do not design content that can cause seizures: Complete -- nothing I can see on this site can induce a seizure.
  • 2.4 Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are -- Unimplemented: there is no navigation bar at the side of the webpage.

Criteria 3: Understandable -- Complete
  • 3.1 Make text content readable and understandable: Complete -- everything is written in very clear, simple english.
  • 3.2 Make web pages appear and behave in predictable ways: Complete -- every clickable item does exactly what it looks like it should.
  • 3.3 Help Users avoid mistakes: Partially complete -- the only input that a user can submit is into the search bar at the top of the page. Everything else is a clickable item. The search bar implements a Google-style search but doesn't have any of the predictions that the Google home page has. Everything can be undone by clicking the Back Button.

Criteria 4: Robust -- Partially Complete
  • 4.1 Compatible with assistive technologies: Partially Complete -- near the bottom of the page there is a link which directs the user to the DSS homepage where they can get in contact with DSS and acquire assistive technologies. There is no link to make the current page compatible with the technologies. Also, many of the elements on the page are missing their closing tags or the tags are not ordered properly.