Evaluating Web Accessibility Efforts—A Guide for Accreditation Review Teams

As part of GOALS' continuing efforts to help institutions leverage their web accessibility efforts during accreditation or the reaffirmation process, GOALS has outlined a set of Best Practices for Institution-Wide Web Accessibility and provided a template and examples  for documenting web accessibility efforts for institutions.  However, those materials do not provide guidance for accreditation review teams on how to determine the quality of the evidence provided by an institution.

This document is a guide to help Accreditation Review Teams understand and evaluate institutional evidence of web accessibility efforts. These guidelines may also serve to assist institutions as they develop, review and enhance their reaffirmation materials.

Using this Document

Reviewers will be very familiar with the accreditation process and the ways in which an institution can provide evidence during reaffirmation. This document is laid out to support your efforts as a reviewer, should an institution include the work of web accessibility during accreditation or reaffirmation. It contains 4 institutional indicators aligned with successful enterprise-wide web accessibility. Each indicator is comprised of benchmark statements. Then each benchmark statement is broken into statements of evidence. Finally, we ask a few questions about the strength of the evidence that may be helpful, particularly if this is a new area for your review, or if you are unfamiliar with the complexities of institution-wide web accessibility.

It should be noted, that while several statements of evidence are provided for each benchmark, an institution would not need to demonstrate conformance to each statement to support adherence to a given benchmark. Moreover, the questions contained under each statement of evidence merely demonstrate the diversity with which institutions could respond. Since they are not necessarily the only options that could support an institutional claim of adherence, reviewers may want to consider other forms of evidence that support the key concept detailed at the benchmark level. However, broader evidence across the evidentiary statements outlined in each benchmark would help confirm an institution's accessibility efforts.

Clicking in the (+) next to each example will open a list of questions that can be used to help determine the strength of the given evidence. To minimize each list, simply click the (-) once the list is open.

Indicator #1: Institutional Vision and Leadership Commitment

Institution-wide web accessibility is best attained and sustained when there is leadership to support a vision and commitment toward institutional accessibility. This support should come from many levels including an institution's governing board, central administration, and key personnel. Each must actively support, participate, and take ownership in the work and outcomes of accessibility.

Assessment Review Teams might see evidence for this commitment in any number of ways. Two Benchmarks distinguish Institutional Vision and Leadership Commitment. Under each benchmark are some examples of evidence that would support institutional claims of adherence to that particular benchmark - other evidence may also exist.

How to use this document

Benchmark A: The Commitment of Administrative Leadership

Benchmark B: Relevant Stakeholder Participation

Indicator #2: Planning and Implementation

Web accessibility requires strategic planning. Administrators must establish policies and procedures along with a systematic plan to develop, institute, and maintain web accessibility across the organization.

Assessment Review Teams might see evidence of planning and implantation in any number of ways. Four Benchmarks characterize the Planning and Implementation of Institution-Wide Web Accessibility. Under each benchmark are some examples of evidence that would support institutional claims of adherence to that particular benchmark - other evidence may also exist.

How to use this document

Benchmark A: The Inclusion of Key Personnel

The development of the policy and the plan represent two separate bodies of evidence where an institution would include key personnel in the work of web accessibility. However, the properties that enhance the strength of evidence for each are similar. Therefore, we have combined the evidence for both policy and plan (the next two bullet points under the second bullet (“Involvement of key accessibility personnel and stakeholder groups in the development of an institution-wide web accessibility plan”)*

Benchmark B: A Comprehensive Accessibility Policy

It should be noted, that while a given policy may not contain all of the elements listed below, these elements provide added strength to the comprehensiveness and utility of an accessibility policy. It is also possible that, due to the structure and framework of the policy system at a given institution, some of the elements may be found in overarching policy documents or elsewhere in the system and should still contribute to the merit of the policy.

Elements of a comprehensive policy on web accessibility include:

Benchmark C: A Comprehensive Written Accessibility Plan

It should be noted, that while a given plan may not contain all of the elements listed below, these elements provide added strength to the comprehensiveness and utility of the plan.

Elements of a Comprehensive Plan include:

Benchmark D: The Implementation of the Written Plan

Indicator #3: Resources and Support

An institution-wide web accessibility plan requires adequate resources and support. Administrators must provide the resources necessary to implement the web accessibility plan with provisions to ensure that the system is sustainable and will remain accessible.

Assessment Review Teams might see evidence for this commitment in any number of ways. Five Benchmarks support the adequacy of Resources and Support required for Institution-Wide Web Accessibility. Under each benchmark are some examples of evidence that would support institutional claims of adherence to that particular benchmark - other evidence may also exist.

How to use this document

Benchmark A: Focus on Personnel

Benchmark B: Sufficient Time and Effort Allocated to Personnel

Benchmark C: A Budget Sufficient for Institution-Wide Efforts

Benchmark D: Training and Technical Support

Benchmark E: The Procurement, Development, and Use of Technologies That Will Result in Accessible Web Content

Indicator #4: Assessment

Ongoing assessment is necessary to ensure that your web accessibility plan is working and on track. Processes must be in place to measure progress, constituent satisfaction, and outcomes. This information is then used to help determine the sustainability of the current efforts and make improvements to the overall program.

Assessment Review Teams might see evidence of assessment in a number of ways. Three Benchmarks illustrate the Assessment Necessary for Institution-Wide Web Accessibility. Under each benchmark are some examples of evidence that would support institutional claims of adherence to that particular benchmark - other evidence may also exist.

How to use this document

Benchmark A: Evaluation of Implementation Progress

Benchmark B: Evaluation of Web Accessibility Outcomes

Benchmark C: Assessment Results Are Used To Improve Institutional Accessibility