ADA Compliance and Accessibility: It’s Everyone’s Business

Support Materials: Guidance and Practical Advice for Every Extension Staff Member

graphic of a person climbing a ladder up to an oversized mobile device with an oversized key to open a graphic of a lock with an accessibility symbol inside the keyholeWhile UMaine Extension web editors are responsible to undergo mandatory training on digital content creation, it’s crucial that all Extension staff members take it upon themselves to develop an understanding of the importance of ensuring accessibility in the content they create, both digital/online and in print, whether it’s for internal or external use.

Accessibility isn’t just about meeting requirements; it’s about making sure that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can access and benefit from the information we provide.

As such, fostering a culture of accessibility across all levels of Extension is essential for fulfilling our mission of serving our diverse audience effectively.


Index of Accessibility Resources:


UMS Academy

You’ll need a maine.edu email address to access any of the following learning modules:

Designing Accessible Digital Content

This training has been developed as the University of Maine System prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) by ensuring that all individuals feel welcomed, valued, and able to contribute. This extends to providing access to digital spaces and materials for people with disabilities.

Why is it in Place?

Federal law and university policy mandate accessibility for all digital materials used in university-related activities, as outlined in Board of Trustees Policy, Section 902, and Administrative Practice Letter VI-G. The responsibility for accessible materials falls on both content owners and editors, whether they are the same person or not. This joint responsibility emphasizes the need for thorough checks to ensure accessibility.

These efforts have led to the development of training originally designed for maine.edu web editors (as well as all content creators) to raise awareness of their obligations. While the Office of Civil Rights Investigation’s  Maine.edu resolution went into effect February 23, 2020 – specifically targets maine.edu, similar requirements could apply to other university websites or digital spaces (all content must be made accessible on maine.edu) if accessibility standards are not met.

Extension’s web editors are required to complete, test and pass all modules and tests. If you’re not a web editor and only focusing on a specific segment, it’s advisable to start with the introduction and progress sequentially to the section of interest. Each module builds upon the introduction, ensuring a cohesive learning experience. The good news is if you’re not a web editor, there is no need to test and submit your results – test only if you’d like.

Expected Outcomes
  • Understand why digital accessibility is important at the University of Maine System
  • Learn basic acceptable methods for meeting Web Contact Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) success criteria for websites, documents, videos and digital audio
  • Learn how to apply those acceptable methods in common document creation programs, such as Microsoft Word

Designing Accessible Digital Content consists of the five modules:

  • Module 1: Introduction to Accessibility and Compliance
    In this module you will find a video tutorial, downloads of the slides with information and links to have for future reference, and a quiz section with six questions.

    • What is meant by “digital content?”
    • Why does digital content need to be accessible?
    • Types of disabilities
    • Screen readers, other assistive technologies
    • WCAG 2.1 AA: “Success criteria” and “acceptable methods”
    • Accessibility tenets
  • Module 2: Images and Color
    Module 2 builds upon the information presented in Module 1, so please complete that module first before starting this module. In this module you will find a set of video tutorials to watch sequentially, downloads of the slides with information and links to have for future reference, and a quiz section with five questions. Note: This information is useful, as well, for the creation of print content as well.

    • Alt Text
    • Color Contrast
    • Text in Image
    • Complicated Images as Graphics
  • Module 3: Writing and Content Organization
    Module 3 builds upon the information presented in Module 1 and 2, so please complete those modules first before starting this module. In this module you will find a set of video tutorials to watch sequentially, downloads of the slides with information and links to have for future reference, and a quiz section with five questions. Note: This information is useful, as well, in the creation of written content for email marketing or print pieces.

    • Tags and headings
    • Writing for accessibility and inclusivity
    • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and accessibility
  • Module 4: Making Accessible Documents
    Module 4 builds upon the information presented in Modules 1, 2 and 3, so please complete those modules first before starting this course. In this module you will find a set of video tutorials to watch sequentially, downloads of the slides with information and links to have for future reference, and a quiz section with six questions. Note: It’s crucial to note the segment discussing applying accessibility features to Google Docs, as it highlights the potential removal of these features once the Google Doc is downloaded to a Word document.

    • Word
    • Excel and PowerPoint
    • PDFs
    • Google Docs, Sheets and Slides
  • Module 5: Video and Audio
    Module 5 builds upon the information presented in Module 1: Introduction to Accessibility and Compliance, so please complete that modules first before starting this course. In this module you will find a set of video tutorials to be taken sequentially, downloads of the slides with information and links to have for future reference, and a quiz section with six questions. Note: When the Extension Communications and Marketing Team uploads video content to Extension’s playlist on UMaine’s YouTube channel, every effort is made to ensure that automated, corrected closed captioning/transcript is included with the upload.

    • Closed captions for recorded video
    • Transcripts for recorded video
    • Live video
    • Audio-only recordings and presentations
    • Audio descriptions

Additional UMS Academy Resources:

UMaine Division of Marketing and Communications

Plugged In: For UMaine Extension Staff and Volunteers

Association of Communication Excellence (ACE)

What is ACE?

ACE is a professional organization that brings together communicators, educators, and information technologists in the fields of agriculture, natural resources, and life and human sciences. ACE members collaborate to advance the quality and effectiveness of communication within these disciplines, sharing knowledge, resources, and best practices to promote understanding and engagement with science-based information.

Several members of the UMaine Extension Communications and Marketing Team are also part of ACE, an organization that offers valuable guidance on accessibility issues and ADA compliance. Through its resources, workshops, and expert advice shared via member chat groups and learning communities, they connect with peers nationwide to address accessibility challenges effectively.

ACE Member-Exclusive Webinar Recordings on Accessibility-Related Topics:

Resources Provided During May 18, 2023’s Webinar:

WebAIM

WebAIM is a comprehensive online resource dedicated to promoting web accessibility for individuals with disabilities. It offers guidelines, tools, and training materials to help web developers and content creators understand and implement accessibility standards, ensuring that digital content is usable and perceivable by all users, regardless of disabilities.

Extension’s Communications and Marketing Team or Extension’s Web Team

For any other questions related to ADA Compliance and Accessibility, contact either Extension’s Communications and Marketing Team at extension.communications@maine.edu or Extension’s Web Team: Michelle Snowden, Webmaster, at michelle.snowden@maine.edu or Matt Thomas, Web Professional, at matt.s.thomas@maine.edu.

Extension Exchange, April 19, 2024:

This session features a presentation called “Unlocking Accessibility: Top 10 Reasons It’s Everyone’s Business” with Michelle Snowden and Matt Thomas, UMaine Extension’s Web Team.

Video: Unlocking Accessibility: Top 10 Reasons It’s Everyone’s Business (YouTube)