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Prioritizing Web Content for Accessibility Review and Remediation

Accessibility in the context of disability is using universal design to create programs, services, and activities which can be utilized by all individuals, regardless of disability. To access is to enter into, participate in, and engage with the Michigan State University experience.

Michigan State University is committed to providing accessible digital materials for persons with disabilities.

Michigan State University’s digital accessibility strategy is to prioritize which digital properties to invest accessibility evaluation resources, and web/course development remediation time into. Michigan State deploys prioritization at a macro level (when determining which digital systems and content to engage with), at the mezzo level (when deciding which aspects of the digital systems and content to engage with) and at a micro level (when defining severity of accessibility bugs).

This guidance has been provided by MSU's Accessibility Review Committee.

  • Macro - how to decide which digital systems to engage with (which sites, courses, programs, vendors).
  • Mezzo - how to decide which aspects/contexts of a system to focus review/remediation on (which processes within a site, program, course, or vended technology)
  • Micro - how to decide which bugs to focus on within aspects/contexts of a digital system (severity of bugs within a site)

Macro

Those at Michigan State University involved in the purchase, creation, or maintenance of digital systems and content for the university should consider the accessibility of digital content and platforms. When prioritizing which content and platforms to review and remediate, units should understand the impact that digital systems and content have on individuals with disabilities in and outside the university.

This prioritization scale is intended to help you determine the scope of the impact, and the accessibility of digital content and platforms.

In every case firstly, digital platforms or content that has received a complaint or request for support from a person or community of persons with disabilities should be prioritized first.

Individuals with disabilities may report complaints or request support in a variety of ways. These ways include, but are not limited to:

When evaluating risk for digital content or platforms, it is important to consider how likely a purchase is to create barriers for individuals with disabilities. In general, digital content and platforms that represent high-priority in terms of accessibility include:

  • Large audience/a user base consisting of students
  • Required for course work or educational programs, services, or activities
  • High degree of educational opportunities/benefits through technology
  • There is no easily identifiable alternative that provides an equally effective, equally integrated program/service in an equally integrated manner to individuals with disabilities
  • There is a commercially available accessible alternative
  • Systems where it is difficult or impossible to provide a timely accommodation to a person with a disability

Michigan State uses the following matrix to determine priority. Items which have a high score should be reviewed firstly. Itme which have a low score should be reviewed lastly, unless a complaint is made by a student, faculty or staff member, or university guest or visitor. If you do not have sufficient information to assign a level to each factor, then priority cannot be accurately and ethically determined.

Michigan State University accessibility prioritization matrix.
Priority Level
Factor 0 1 2 3 4
What is the number of users? An individual user chose and accesses the digital system or content to complete a task. Only internal users (faculty/staff), and a relatively small number of users. A moderate amount of users, including external guests/visitors or a small population of students, faculty, or staff. A relatively large numbers of users, including students and faculty. A relatively large portion/number of constituents, including a large number of students and faculty, or external guests/visitors or community partners.
Is it required for participation in or completion of coursework or educational programs, services, or activities? Not required for coursework or for educational activities. Required for educational programs for external guests/visitors, and a relatively small number or portion. Required for coursework or educational programs, services, or activities for a relatively small amount of students, faculty, staff, visitors, or guests. Required for coursework or educational programs, services, or activities for a moderate amount of students, faculty, staff, visitors, or guests. Required for coursework or educational programs, services, or activities for a relatively large amount of students, faculty, staff, visitors, or guests.
Is there an alternative service, program, system, or process that is accessible? No alternative service, program, system, or process is available that is accessible. An alternative service, program, system, or process is available that offers some accessible features as compared to the current item. An alternative service, program, system, or process is available, which can be used with direct assistance or accommodation. An alternative service, program, system, or process is available that offers substantially equivalent features, functionality, and usability as compared to the current item. An alternative version of the same service, program, system, or process is currently available.
Is there a way to provide a timely accommodation without adversely affecting the experience, opportunity, or dignity of a person with a disability? Yes. There is a way to provide accommodation which has slight impact on either the usability, opportunity, time, or dignity of a person with a disability. There is a way to provide accommodation which has significant impact on either the usability, opportunity, time, or dignity of a person with a disability. There is a way to provide accommodation which has significant impact on either the usability, opportunity, time, or dignity of a person with a disability. There is no way to effectively accommodate that does not pervasively affect the availability of program, service, system, or process.

Please note that the university’s first priority is to university constituencies: students, faculty, staff, executives, and university visitors/guests, and that direct accessibility requests should be considered before all others. Additionally, any accessibility of information which impacts health, safety, or security of university constituencies is to be weighted more heavily.

Mezzo

Once a system has been evaluated for priority, and it is being directly engaged by an accessibility evaluator or liaison, different aspects/contexts of a system may be prioritized. In order to determine mezzo prioritization, features should be considered based on their importance to accomplishing the task that the program, service, system, or process is used for. Certain features may be less used and therefore should not be prioritized to the same level.

For mezzo-prioritization decision making, several factors or pieces of data are useful:

  • Analytics (page-level)
  • Usability testing
  • Experience mapping
  • Surveying
  • Diary studies/experience sampling
  • User feedback
  • Informal/anecdotal feedback

Using these data points can help determine which aspects of the system to spend the most evaluation/remediation resource on.

Micro

Micro-prioritization is done by prioritizing individual fixes that need to be made to increase the accessibility of portions of a product/service within a digital system.

Micro-prioritization involves tracking bugs, and understanding the impact that bugs have on the user.

Within aspects of digital systems, it is important to assign priority to different bugs based on the significance of the accessibility barrier. This helps developers, managers, and vendors to assign bugs to fix based on the impact that these bugs have on the end user.

Michigan State University accessibility severity scale
Accessibility Severity Scale
Level 4, Blocker: Prevents access to core processes or many secondary processes; causes harm or significant discomfort.
Level 3, Critical: Prevents access to some secondary processes; makes it difficult to access core processes or many secondary proceseses.
Level 2, Major: Makes it inconvenient to access core proceses or many secondary processes.
Level 1, Minor: Makes it inconvenient to access isolated processes.
Level 0, Lesser: Usability observation.

You may also access a PDF version of the micro prioritization guidance.