At Least They Tried: Accessibility and the Georgia Tech OIE Homepage

This image on the OIE website has meeting information for "Study Abroad 101" but no caption or alternate text. The description text at the bottom of the image is also hard to read.

This image on the OIE website has meeting information for “Study Abroad 101” but no caption or alternate text. The description text at the bottom of the image is also hard to read.

One of the other "linked" images on the OIE page

One of the “linked” images on the OIE page


In order for any content to be accessible, it must be perceivable for all its users. In the case of a website, there are several Web Content Accessibility Guidelines relating to perceivability that help clarify how accessible a website is. By analyzing the Georgia Tech Office of International Education website with regards to these guidelines, I hope to convince you that the page is almost (but not technically) sufficiently perceivable.

The first Guideline in question states that websites should provide text alternatives to non-text media. In the homepage for the Office of International Education (which I’ll call OIE from now on), the non-text items that appear are the logo, the scrolling links pane, an embedded video, and three images. The logo has alternate text that can be read out by a text to speech system, the video has captions and a link to read more, and two of the other images can be selected as links and have descriptions directly above them. The third image, however, contains important text about the times of study abroad meetings without any alternative text that a text-to-speech system could use. Other images in the “Student” and “Parent” tabs of the home page also have no perceivable text representation, and together, these cause a failure in perceivability.

The OIE site does an acceptable job at the other three perceivability guidelines. For one, an alternative is provided for the time-based media on the site, namely the captions for the video. Second, the content adapts to any window size more readily than most websites do. However, there is no option to simplify the page structure, such as viewing the OIE, Student, and Parent tabs on one page instead of clicking between them. This is a minor drawback to the overall accessibility. Finally, the foregrounds and backgrounds are clearly distinguishable from one another, the worst being white text on a medium-gray nonuniform background.


  • Kaitlin Kitchens

    I really enjoyed your blog post regarding the perceivability guidelines of the OIE website. I actually did another one of the websites that failed at many of these guidelines, so it is interesting to find a website that abides to these regulations. I also appreciate that you gave an alternative to your speech post by providing a transcript as well. You highlight the most significant guidelines of the Web Content Accessibilty and provide not only visual content, but audio content as well.

  • Peace Olaniran

    I am refreshed by your blog post especially since others did their blog post on Black Negative. While listening, I can understand that the website is not as perceivable as needed because of all of the information that it contains, but I feel that it is still perceivable because it does include a screen reader with alt-text. Yes, it is less perceivable then we would like, but it does a good job of evening including the alt-text it does have considering the amount of information that is on the page. Personally, I do not think the website has a perceivability issue, but more of just too much information on one page. So for OIE I would work on the site in a manner that would reduce the amount of information displayed which will reduce the uncomfortable aspect of it when users first use it.

    • Hartley Mcguire

      For the most part, I agree with your assertion that the site is good enough at being perceivable. For many things, getting as close as OIE has gotten is probably good enough. However, to see that many things on the OIE site do have alternate text, but a couple of the most important parts do not is surprising to me. The way I see it, the alternate text was an afterthought in the design of the site and not something that is actively thought about. Because of this, I think the OIE website should try to improve their accessibility, especially on recently updated components which are currently used.

  • Marcus Wilder

    I came to the same conclusion analyzing the accessibility of the OIE website: improvements need to be made. However, I believe the website’s lack of distinguishability makes it far from “almost” perceivable. Going from page to page, there is no consistent layout style, and some pages are occupied by massive amounts of disarranged information (Study Abroad, International Students, Global Internships, etc.). This makes it almost impossible for someone who is blind or visually impaired to make sense of the information, constituting the addition of auditory earcons, or spearcons to aid in mapping the site.

  • Raven Dean

    The Georgia Tech OIE website is certainly very important and has a lot of information that needs to be perceived. I see how you left room for error in your claim by saying the website is “almost … sufficiently perceivable”, and from the examples you provided, I would have to agree with you, but I do feel that the WCA guidelines could be followed a step further. A user goes to the website for information. Although navigation is important, much needed information, such as dates and times of study abroad meetings, should be more emphasized for a text-to-speech system.

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