Digital accessibility @ UW–Madison

Digital accessibility liaisons

Being a liaison

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

More about liaisons

The liaison directory

Digital accessibility liaisons are coordinated and supported by CUE, the ADA coordinator, and other university partners. Your liaison will help with policy questions and resources for your unit. Use the liaison directory to find your liaison’s contact information.

Search the liaison directory

Resources for liaisons

Being a digital accessibility liaison for your unit will look different for everyone. There are available resources to help with this role. Resources include, guides for the current phase of the policy, information on reporting barriers, and how to find help.

Resources for liaisons

With manager or supervisor approval, you can sign up to serve as the liaison for your team and help to to make our digital content accessible so UW–‍Madison community members can fully, equally, and independently participate in university activities.

Register as a digital accessibility liaison

Current policy phase: Digital documents

The policy is organized into multiple phases that will help the university focus resources towards one type of content. This also allows units to prioritize where they should focus resources to support the policy. The current phase of the policy is focused on document accessibility. Documents include but are not limited to, Word documents, PDF documents, and Google Docs. To understand the phases of the policy, you can review the implementation plan and the digital accessibility standards that we are working to meet.

The accordion menus in this section offer some free and self-directed learning resources available to all UW–‍Madison community members.

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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 – Creating 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.
LinkedIn Learning – Digital Accessibility in the Modern Workplace - 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. – Accessibility Fundamentals Overview

Creating accessible documents guide

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

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.
Google – Make your document or presentation more accessible

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.
Microsoft – Improve accessibility with the Accessibility Checker

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.
Disability and Ableism Awareness training

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 Universities of Wisconsin policy require universities to ensure that their technology is accessible for people with disabilities. To support the university mission and the Wisconsin Idea — all of our students, faculty, staff and community have the right to an inclusive university they can independently access.

What led to the adoption of the new 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.

Who was responsible for writing and approving the digital accessibility policy?

Policy writers were a committee made up of people from across the following departments:

  • Division of Information Technology (DoIT)
  • Academic Technology DoIT
  • Center for User Experience
  • General Library System
  • Office of Compliance
  • University Marketing
  • McBurney Disability Resource Center
  • College of Agricultural & Life Sciences
  • Cybersecurity Departmental Office
  • English Department
  • Computer-Aided Engineering

Policy approvers:

Informed groups:

  • Governance groups
  • Research Technology Advisory Group
  • Academic Advising & Policy Leaders (AAPL)
  • University Council for Academic Affairs and Assessment
  • Information Technology Collaborative Coordination Committee (ITCCC)
  • Accessible Technology Advisory Group (ATAG)
  • University Relations Council
  • University Staff Governance
  • Academic Staff Governance

Administrative Offices:

  • Office of Human Resources
  • Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
  • Office of the Registrar
  • Office of the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration – Administrative Information Technology Board
  • Administrative Technology Project Information Technology Strategy Group
  • Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning group
  • Division of Information Technology Management Team
  • Division of Information Technology Leadership Team

For more information on policy development @ UW–‍Madison, please see the following resources:

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. These phases are not meant to solely dictate what work occurs, but rather a proactive focus for accessibility work during these time frames and when CUE will provide targeted support. If a person experiences a barrier in any of these content types, that work should be prioritized and not limited for completion by the phases.

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 are accessible?

  1. Review the IT Accessibility and Usability KnowledgeBase to see if there are any known barriers.
  2. If no known barriers are found or no prior evaluation has been completed, please contact the Center for User Experience for a consultation.
    • The Center for User Experience evaluates university tools and resources to create university level documentation about any barriers that might be present.

Will I need to make my digital resources and information technology accessible immediately?

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. The phases help focus the training and resources that the university is focusing on.

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 should may customize the structure the designation of the digital accessibility liaison role to meet your unit’s digital accessibility 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.

Project updates

List of articles

How to get help

Learn more about the evaluation service or share questions, concerns and other feedback.