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VIDE Web Accessibility Policy and Standards

To be compliant with the OCR and Web Accessibility Standards a person with a disability must be able to access the same information, documents, and services as a person without a disability, and be able to do so in an equally effective manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use. Information and services must be made available at the same time to a person with a disability as to a person without a disability.

Considerations for Functional Accessibility

To help satisfy the requirement to comply with meet OCR and Web Accessibility Standards, our resource (page, site, media, or application) should be functionally accessible, rather than merely technically accessible. While technical accessibility determines whether a resource is coded to an accepted accessibility standard, to be functionally accessible means that any person can use the resource effectively to perform an available task. Coding to an accepted standard is often a means of approaching functional accessibility, but achieving functional accessibility means that your resource is easy to use and your content clear and unambiguous for all users, regardless of ability.

To be functional and accessible to:

  • Moderate or severe visual impairment
  • Colorblindness
  • Deaf or hard of hearing
  • Motor disabilities
  • Cognitive disabilities

Users with severe visual impairments typically use screen readers, programs that navigate the web browser's rendering of the code of a web page and read aloud the content. Screen readers identify not only text, but alternate text for images. They facilitate full interaction with web page content and objects. And they allow users to skip between chunks of content by link, heading, form element, and content block, among other means. Invalid or lax coding practices, minimal logical structure and semantics, and inappropriate or missing textual descriptions for images or links make navigation and understanding of web content difficult or impossible for screen reader reliant users. Some usages of JavaScript and plug-ins can be inaccessible to screen readers, as well.

The Screen Reader web application is used most on the department website.  It has Full support for access keys, so that users can control reading using keyboard following WCAG specification. Screen Reader is based on an advanced algorithm for the generation of voice, so that users will be able to listen to a natural sounding voice with interpretation of punctuation.

 Users with moderate to severe visual impairments (“low-vision”) typically enlarge the screen fonts, either by using the website Screen Reader to zoom or scale the text.

Users with colorblindness have problems distinguishing between certain colors. We recommend avoiding instances where functionality or meaning is conveyed solely by color differences and further recommend evaluating web resources with special programs that emulate various types of color-blindness.

Users who are deaf or hard of hearing may rely on transcripts of audio content, captioned video, and alternatives to auditory cuing.

According to best practices and our Minimum Web Accessibility Standards, all video content must have a synchronized text track (caption), providing transcription of spoken text, speaker identification, and text equivalents of non-verbal audio (a.k.a., sound effects), as appropriate. Audio podcasts and other spoken audio should be accompanied by a full text transcription. Web pages or applications that use audio cues also should provide a visual, preferably text-based, cue.

Users with various motor disabilities may have difficulty using the mouse as a pointing device, due to nerve conditions, disease, or injury. Limited motor acuity may affect response times and accuracy in selecting navigation or options within forms and other controls. Repetitive stress and other less severe motor disabilities may make over-reliance on the keyboard difficult — for example, excessive tabbing to move through controls. Users with limited upper-body mobility may use speech recognition for input or other input devices which mimic keyboard input, or they may rely solely on the keyboard for all input.

Developers should test to make sure all navigation, form, and other control elements in web pages are accessible and operable via the keyboard alone and look to see that if timed responses are necessary there is the ability to extend the time and that that functionality is easy to understand and locate in the page or application. Also try to judge the impact on usability afforded by the quantity and complexity of input required for navigation, form, or other input. (Note that providing a means for skipping over repetitive navigation is a requirement of our Minimum Web Accessibility Standards.) We also recommend testing the usability of web forms and applications with speech recognition software, such as Dragon or Windows 7 Speech Recognition.

Cognitive disability is the most broad and varied category of disability. Most users with Cognitive disabilities include conditions affecting reading and verbal comprehension, learning disabilities, attention and distractibility disorders, conditions affecting memory and processing of large amounts of information, and problems comprehending information presented mathematically or graphically.

In general, try to assess the general usability and comprehensibility — clarity in presentation and logical and spacial recognition — of web resources. Ensuring correct grammar and spelling and reducing verbal complexity will have a positive impact for users with certain cognitive disabilities, as well. There also exist services that can analyze the complexity of your text content, for example the Readability Test.

Minimum Web Accessibility Standards and Compliance Table

The Virgin Islands Department of Education Minimum Web Accessibility Standards (MWAS) provide implementation guidelines for its Web Accessibility Policy. The Standards were adopted in 2004 and are maintained by the ADA Coordinator's Office, with the assistance of the Web Accessibility Center. They are based on Section 508 §1194.22 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act, the current standard of legal compliance for U.S. government institutions. The goal of MWAS is to ensure web resources are functionally accessible to people with disabilities, as described above and in Section 508 §1194.31 of the Rehab Act, “Functional Performance Criteria.”

We understand that the 508 criteria are being revisited and will likely come to harmonize with W3C WCAG 2.0. The "Reference Standards" sections in the middle column of the table below elaborate MWAS in an attempt to align it with current and emerging standards.

The table below quotes the OSU MWAS in the left-hand column. The middle column lists general web content categories for each Standard and gives links to similar or relevant web accessibility standards. The web content categories refer to HTML structures, content provided via external resources, and aspects of web resources having to do with visual presentation and behavior:

  • HTML Structures: Document Organization and Semantics, Forms, Graphics, Links, and Tables
  • Content from External Resources: Audio, Multimedia, Plug-ins, Video
  • Presentation and Behavior: Dynamic Content, Keyboard Accessibility and Focus, Use of Color, Use of JavaScript

The right column of the table elaborates on and provides guidelines for meeting MWAS. “Required” guidelines must be implemented to meet the Standard, but all guidelines should be considered.

The middle column can serve as reference lookup to allow you to research other key web accessibility standards, specifically:

  • Section 508 §1194.22 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act (508), the standard of legal compliance for U.S. government institutions.
  • The World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0 (WCAG 2.0), the primary international guidelines.
  • Initiative Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite (WAI-ARIA) 1.0 for web content
  • The implementation guidelines for the Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act (IITAA), a model state law, authored in collaboration with a Big Ten institution.


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St. Thomas

1834 Kongens Gade, St. Thomas, VI 00802
Phone: 340-774-0100

Curriculum Center:
Mon – Fri:  8AM – 5PM


St. Croix

2133 Hospital Street, Christiansted, St. Croix, VI 00820
Phone: 340-773-1095

Curriculum Center:
Mon – Fri:  8AM – 5PM

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