Web Accessibility at URI

Over the past several years, we have taken significant steps to improve the accessibility of the University of Rhode Island’s web presence.  URI’s website is for everyone; the institution embraces equity, diversity, and inclusion, and its website must communicate the same.

One of the most significant steps toward improving accessibility was the development of a new WordPress theme, which governs the look, feel, and layout of the site, and a companion library of components, or web elements, such as buttons, cards, and heroes.  The theme and component library were developed with accessibility top-of-mind, and launched in 2018.  Since then, over 250 websites have been created in or migrated into the new theme by the web team, the process of which also provided the opportunity to revise the content of each site and make accessibility improvements to areas not directly governed by the theme. The development of the theme and related plugins are ongoing, and as new technologies and standards arise, we incorporate them into the ecosystem.

Since the university’s web presence comprises hundreds of sites, the web team relies heavily on content creators and editors across the institution to perform routine updates to their respective sites and pages.  Education plays a key role in making sure editors are mindful of accessibility requirements in their work.  To that end, we provide accessibility guidelines and review best practices with individuals, so that we can remain as compliant as possible.

Audits are completed manually and issues are resolved as they arise.  We use tools provided by WebAIM, including WAVE and Contrast Checker to inspect sites and designs for accessibility issues, and are currently developing a plugin that, when deployed, will flag common accessibility errors and make it easier for site editors to see where improvements need to be made.  Some built-in error checking already exists as part of the component library.

We are always looking for ways to improve the accessibility of our websites.  We recognize that there are still areas for improvement; the steps we’ve taken so far are part of an evolving approach toward providing resources for everyone.