Digital accessibility @ UW–Madison

Digital accessibility liaisons

Digital accessibility liaisons will partner with the Center for User Experience (CUE) to provide consultation and implementation guidance for their units and will be the primary points of contact for accessibility evaluations prior to procurement, technical consultations and policy compliance for their units.

The digital accessibility liaison network is coordinated by the Center for User Experience and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator to support liaisons through training, guidance, resources and consultation services. Additional support is provided by DoIT Academic Technology.

Resources for liaisons

Working together to make our digital content accessible is not only our policy; it’s the right thing to do. We have the resources to get you started.

Guidelines, issue reporting, trainings, campus partners, more

Learning opportunities

Curated resources for self-paced learning of digital accessibility topics, including accessibility fundamentals, strategies to improve accessibility in different types of documents across major platforms, best practices to develop a more inclusive workplace environment, and disability-related resources at UW–Madison.

LinkedIn Learning – Creating Accessible PDFs

This training course goes over why accessibility is important and key features of an accessible PDF. It also covers three workflows for creating accessible PDFs (Word, PowerPoint and InDesign). We believe that modules 3,4,5 will be very useful for the current policy phase but completing the entire course will give a good understanding of accessible PDFs.

LinkedIn Learning – Digital Accessibility in the Modern Workplace

So much of our work takes place in digital spaces and this makes it very important to understand how those spaces work for everyone. Hector Minto, an accessibility specialist at Microsoft, shares how to use accessibility solutions across your tools and processes. – Accessibility Fundamentals Overview

Introduces web accessibility and links to additional resources. Includes accessibility in context; why accessibility is important for individuals, businesses, society; making digital technology accessible; evaluating accessibility; and basic examples.

Creating accessible documents guide

Basic steps and guidance to increase the accessibility of your Word, HTML, PowerPoint and PDF documents.

Google – Make your document or presentation more accessible

When you create a document or presentation, follow these tips to make it more readable by everyone, including people with disabilities.

Microsoft – Improve accessibility with the Accessibility Checker

Documentation and information on how the Microsoft Accessibility Checker runs checks on Outlook email messages, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations and other Microsoft products.

Disability and Ableism Awareness training

This workshop, provided by the Inclusion@UW team, aims to dispel common disability myths and stereotypes, improve awareness of disability-related laws, and point to UW–Madison policies and resources.

Policy implementation project

The project team is working in collaboration with the Center for User Experience to ensure that the UW–Madison community has been adequately informed of the Digital Accessibility Policy and to establish the digital accessibility liaison network, which provides support to their local units. Keep track of our timeline and activities on our project page.


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Why does UW–Madison need accessible content?

Federal laws and UW System policy require universities to ensure that their technology is accessible for people with disabilities. Accessible technology benefits everyone, not just disabled individuals. For example, video captions can help someone who is deaf or someone without a disability working in a loud space. Plus, it’s the right thing to do — all of our students, faculty, staff and community have the right to an inclusive university.

Why do we need a new digital accessibility policy?

First and foremost, the 2001 policy and resources didn’t fully support our UW–Madison community. Three Big 10 Universities reviewed our approach to digital accessibility in 2018 and found the 2001 policy to be outdated and too narrowly scoped to web pages and web resources. It did not cover modern academic technology like apps used for course registration. In recent years, there has been more attention to violations of the rights of people with disabilities concerning digital access. Recently, the following “Dear Colleague Letter on Online Accessibility at Postsecondary Institutions” was issued to remind higher education institutions of their civil rights obligation to ensure their digital tools are fully usable by individuals with disabilities.

What are the goals of the new policy?

In support of its mission, UW–‍Madison is committed to diversity and fostering a culture of full inclusion of people with disabilities by providing digital resources and information technology that people with disabilities can fully, equally and independently use.

This policy establishes shared definitions and practices, digital accessibility requirements and standards, and reporting requirements to ensure compliance with the university’s obligations to nondiscrimination under applicable state and federal laws.

We all are responsible for making digital content accessible.

What is the timeline for implementation?

The implementation plan for this policy is phased to focus on one digital resource category at a time through the year 2030. With this plan, we can prioritize and make progress as a community towards a more accessible digital university.

Phase Effective date
Policy effective, liaison network established July 1, 2023
Documents 2023 – 2024
LMSs and LTIs 2024 – 2025
Multimedia 2025 – 2026
Websites 2026 – 2027
Web apps 2027 – 2028
Mobile apps 2028 – 2029
Local software 2029 – 2030

For more information about these phases, see the “How to follow UW–‍Madison’s digital accessibility policy” guide.

How do I know if we’re in compliance with the policy?

Being in compliance with the policy means:

  • The university adheres to legal and regulatory requirements.
  • Your school, college, unit or division has been assigned a digital accessibility liaison.
  • Following through when a barrier is reported or discovered in your school, college, unit or division, by remediating the barrier or completing an Equally Effective Alternate Access Plan (EEAAP). An EEAAP details how the benefits or services offered by the digital tool will be made available to individuals with disabilities until conformance with the policy can be met. This may require consultation with the Center for User Experience and the ADA coordinator.

While timely accommodation(s) must be provided when an accessibility barrier cannot readily be addressed, solely providing accommodations does not meet the requirements of this policy.

How do I know my technology (or other technologies) is accessible?

Evaluations are conducted to identify the barriers a user may encounter so they can be fixed.

Self-evaluate your digital technologies by:

  • Checking images for alt text
  • Checking the tab order/keyboard navigation
  • Magnifying the page to 400% to make sure content flows properly
  • Running a WAVE evaluation tool to check headings and color contrast
  • Use UDOIT to confirm your Canvas course is accessible

Request an evaluation for enterprise-wide tools through the Center for User Experience.

Will I need to make my digital resources and information technology accessible by July 1, 2023?

Not generally. The new Digital Accessibility Policy provides a structured implementation timeline for when units will need to focus efforts to comply with the updated policy. However, content open to the general public must be accessible.

Do I need to hire a new position to act as the digital accessibility liaison?

Your unit may choose to do so, but it is not necessary for policy compliance. Your unit may structure the designation of the digital accessibility liaison role to meet unit needs for digital accessibility, and the responsibilities of the liaison can be flexed depending on your unit’s resources. A singular unit may even designate multiple digital accessibility liaisons as appropriate for its operations.

My course content is available to the public, or I give presentations to and share content with the general public. Does this content need to be accessible?

Yes. Per the conformance requirement table, if UW–Madison-created content is open to the general public, we must make that content accessible. The “Make it accessible” guides provide best practices for making content accessible, and the Center for User Experience is a central resource to support units with content accessibility.

How to get help

Do you have questions, concerns or other feedback?