The UNO Information Technology Services (ITS) and University Communications digital teams collaborated on two major projects focused on web accessibility over the past few months. The team consisted of ITS staff Stuart Wheat and Cassia Nebel as well as University Communications Digital Communications staff Jen McCahill, Sophie Ibrahimi, and Sarah Casey.
These changes come during an important time in accessibility discussions around technology, content and learning in the world. Not only is there a risk in not addressing accessibility issues from a legal perspective, it’s also the right thing to do, especially as UNO continues in its strategic goal to be the premier metropolitan university in the country focused on access to exceptional experiences.
Some macro-level changes were in store for the team to address numerous issues with our web templates as technology, devices, and users have changed since implementing many of the styles and templates nearly five years ago on unomaha.edu.
In the future, the team will be partnering across the University of Nebraska System as well as the Accessibility Services Center at UNO to sit down with real users to test and audit digital platforms to ensure accessibility is met.
Accessibility (Went Live April 12, 2019)
UNO's web accessibility initiative is being conducted to better meet the needs of all site users. Using the WCAG as our standard, this ongoing process will improve the effectiveness, and experience of every web page on our site. The WCAG are published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organization for the Internet.
Changes will take place April 11 and 12. Many of these changes and additions will only be apparent when using assistive technologies, such as screen readers. Improved use of structural markup and the appropriate use of ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) attributes and other techniques will result in markedly better navigation for these technologies.
Other changes will be noticeable. Users may note enhanced foreground and background contrast ratios for text and buttons, as well as the addition of underlines for links where context and color alone are insufficient for their identification.
This effort toward increased accessibility will be applied as a standard part of the development process. Our aim for continuous improvement recognizes that this undertaking is ongoing.
Read more about Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
Navigation (Going Live June 13, 2019)
First, the teams collaborated with ITS designers to address the top navigation. Larger text and higher contrast was used to increase legibility. The team also created larger clickable areas to decrease unintended clicks and improves usability for those with physical disabilities. The hover dropdowns with click dropdowns and a new secondary indicator icon on homepages also helps ALL users understand what is open and where the homepage is without having to hover.
The MY Page and EMPLOYEE Directory remain and a new highlighted search bar is located near those new larger easily clickable top tasks. For those looking for other search items they remain on the SEARCH page with a simple click of the search icon or return of the search button.
Learn more about the differences in “templates” at ucomm.unomaha.edu/brand in the brand guide on Page 73 (22.214.171.124 Headers).
Note: The brand guide will need to be updated in 2019 after this change.
Not only is there a risk in not addressing accessibility issues from a legal perspective, it’s also the right thing to do, especially as UNO continues in its strategic goal to be the premier metropolitan university in the country focused on access to exceptional experiences.
Other Major Projects
These two major projects were a large part of the first-half Phase 3 2019 Digital Communications Roadmap process. Other major projects included:
- Cascade CMS Upgrade
- Enterprise Hootsuite Social Media Expansion and Training
- Mobile App Phase 4 Integration into Admissions process
- Replacement of the Guidebook Campus Visit App
- Human Resources and Policies Refresh and Update
- Nebraska 2019 Flood Efforts
- Admissions Applications and CRM Phases (Ongoing)
- Business and Finance Web Updates (Ongoing)
- New Centers and Department Home/Landing Pages (Still to come)
- Majors and Programs Page Discovery (Still to come)
- Redirects.unomaha.edu Update (Ongoing)
- Navigation Update Post-Design 2.0 (Still to come)
- UNOmaha.edu Site Search (Still to come)
- Accessibility Content and Design Audits (Ongoing)
A full list of projects and phases, as well as the Digital Communications process and governance model are located on the University Communications Website.
As a reminder, the Digital Communications governance, which includes channels such as the website, social media, digital analytics, digital and monument signage, email newsletters, short URLs, live chat, mobile apps and guidance on taking payment online is governed by a cross-campus committee with representatives from both academic and administrative units at UNO.
Members of the Executive Committee
- Sacha Kopp, Senior Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs (Chair)
- Dan Shipp, Vice Chancellor, Student Success
- Doug Ewald, Vice Chancellor for Business, Finance and Business Development
- Deborah Smith-Howell, Associate Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs, Dean of Graduate Studies
- Bret Blackman, Chief Information Officer, Information Technology Services
- Makayla McMorris, Executive Director, University Communications
- Faculty Senate President
- Staff Advisory Council President
- Student Government President
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.