History website wins accessibility award

The site was honored at the recent VCU Web Users Group meeting as 'most improved.'
Andrea Wight and Kathleen Murphy

Website accessibility is an important digital initiative at VCU (and at many other colleges and universities) and has to do with the proper design and coding of websites such that people with disabilities can use them. Making sites accessible to everyone can be difficult, but necessary work, as site managers strive to ensure all users have equal access to the information about its academic programs and services. Content managers require more training than has been the case in the past to achieve the rigorous standards.

In recognition of these efforts, VCU Web Services recently gave their second annual round of awards to those sites at VCU that best meet ADA accessibility standards naming the Department of History as the most improved large website.

The site managers for History are Kathleen Murphy and Andrea Wight. Kathleen and Andrea work in tandem to ensure the site is in good standing with VCU's web standards and guidelines and can easily be read by screen readers and other assistive devices. They rely on SiteImprove software to help them check and monitor site accessibility as changes are made over time. In the past year, they have put particular emphasis on the documents embedded in the site to ensure they, too, are easily readable by assistive devices.

Andrea and Kathleen say of the award, "We are grateful to be recognized for the work we did and continue to do to make the website more accessible. We can say with certainty that we would not have been able to fix our accessibility issues if it were not for VCU and the College of Humanities and Sciences staff who make sure accessibility is a priority by providing the tools, education and skills we need to make sure our website can meet and try to exceed standards. We are happy to be able to contribute to the bigger picture of the important work they are doing."

the award, which has inscribed the following: V.C.U. Transforming Accessibility Initiative, 2019 Champions of Accessibility Award, Department of History, Digital Access Award (large site), Most Improved

Below is the full list of awardees for 2019.

Most Improved

Large website: Department of History

Small website: University Controller's Office

Best (Most Accessible)

Large website: Office of Alumni Relations

Small website: VCU Web Standards and Guidelines

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