The University of North Carolina Wilmington is committed to providing equal access to all aspects of campus life, both programmatically and physically. UNCW has devoted much energy to meeting the requirements of Section 504, Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. In addition, Section 508 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 specifically requires post-secondary institutions to have Web pages that are ADA compliant as of June 2001. Institutions of higher education are clearly responsible for making all programs, activities, and opportunities equally available to qualified individuals with disabilities. As higher education becomes increasingly Web-based, there is a clear obligation to assure programmatic access through attention to the accessibility of both the institutional Web presence and the technology needed to reach it. This is no longer an issue of convenience. The threat to educational opportunity and the danger of discrimination are real and imminent.
In addition, the Web has become one of the most widely used media for delivery of distance education. The relatively low cost of delivery, ease of resource development and wide availability of student access make it an ideal instructional delivery resource. Access guidelines have been developed in order to insure access to all students.
People who are blind will be unable to access graphic images, text formatted in complex ways, Java applets and video clips. People who are deaf or hard-of-hearing will not be able to hear the auditory content of the website. Some people with severe learning disabilities may be unable to process large amounts of text information without the use of assistive technologies.
A comprehensive set of guidelines for meeting the Web access needs of persons with disabilities have been developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) as a working group of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
Pages on the www.uncw.edu website strive to meet current accessibility standards, including those defined by Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act as well as, at a minimum, Priority 1 of the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
The intent of these guidelines is to ensure the creation of websites which provide equal access to information when viewed using typical, industry standard assistive computer technologies in wide use today by people with disabilities. The international body of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) sponsored the work of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) in developing a set of international access guidelines for the Web. WAI guidelines satisfy the access requirements identified under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).