Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act is a broad anti-discrimination law providing equal access to all programs, services and activities that are federally funded. There are no references to the web standards. In 1986 Section 508 was added to the Rehabilitation Act (amended/expanded in 1998) requiring Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. This established the technical standards for web accessibility, but is currently out of date.

Best practices for web development were outlined by the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) which developed the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These are the tehcnical standards outlining a set of guidelines and success criteria for making web content more accessible to people with disabilities. It is more detailed and comprehensive than Section 508.  

Currently, USD Web Services has adopted WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards which are more rigorous guidelines that improve accessibility.

University Web Services continually improves website standards, including accessibility compliance (WCAG 2.0 Level AA). As guidelines change, retroactive changes are being implemented. Best practices have been put into place to ensure that future-forward website creation and updates will attain a high standard. A summary of changes include:

  • Web developer and maintainer job descriptions: All web developer job descriptions include minimum qualifications for "Experience with 508/ADA complience". All maintainer job descriptions should include "Knowledge of 508/ADA compliance".
  • Accessibility and Training Web Developer: One of the ITS web developers will be the 508/ADA compliance expert as outlined in the job description.
  • The university’s Content Management System (CMS), Cascade Server, provides many ways to enforce accessibility compliance for University Web Services and all web maintainers across campus.
  • The CMS has built-in workflow processes so that University Web Services completes a technical review of all changes made by web maintainers prior to sites being published.
  • University Web Services has internal policies and best practices posted, as well as works closely with University Communications to document and publish branding policies that cover many compliance issues, such as format, font size, color, and contrast guidelines.
  • All maintainers are required to attend CMS training before they are allowed access to their site. This training includes an overview on accessibility compliance, including how to make PDFs accessible and what options are available for video/audio captioning.
  • Retroactive upgrades to older sites, documents, and videos are ongoing.
  • Anyone can provide feedback and notify University Web Services when accessibility issues are found by using the USD page’s feedback form at the bottom of every USD and WordPress website.
  • University Web Services will make every effort to respond immediately to accessibility feedback and problems. This may mean that a change must be made by maintainers of academic or department sites, or including larger projects to address accordingly.
  • Impartial, 3rd-party evaluations of our main sites (schools and College) by associations that judge on accessibility, such as International Media Awards, Webbie Awards, etc.
  • Separate training classes on website accessibility (PDF creation, video captioning, etc.), on-line tutorials, and video training (coming Spring 2017)
  • Semi-annually scheduled 3rd-party scanning and reporting for WCAG 2.0 AA on accessibility compliance for the following sections: , 1 page, 18 pages, 3 pages, 15 pages, 13 pages, 3 pages, 20 pages., 65 pages, 1 page, 1 page, 1 page, 1 page, 1 page, 1 page, 1 page

Accessibility Compliance Paradigm

Section 508

The University of San Diego uses standards set forth by Section 508 to ensure that students, faculty, and staff have uncompromising access to every tool, resource, and experience necessary for them to succeed.

Section 504

Section 504 details the rights of people with disabilities, and mainly covers hardware and equipment accessibility. While lying outside the purview of Web Services, the team is nonetheless aware of the principles and will notify the Center for Inclusion and Diversity or any other specialized staff in the event that opportunities for accessibility compliance arise.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 are coupled with Section 508 to optimize accessibility.

Peer Institution Collaboration

USD collaborates with other leaders and institutions in education.

Software Verification

Several accessibility compliant software programs are used to ensure USD's web standards. Cascade Server, Foundation, MyPostings and other applications and services both prohibit accessibility errors and require accessibility compliance with dozens of factors. Other software such as CynthiaSays and the Color Contrast Analyzer make content checks fast, easy, and effective.