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Accessibility Standards and Efforts

To set standardized accessibility settings across all ISP websites, see Cookies and Settings Defaults.

Introduction

After far too much debate, and effort, we have finally concluded that the economic costs versus the benefits of attempting true "cross-browser" accessibility for "all" browsers cannot be justified. See our list of supported browsers. If you wish to examine some of the issues faced in providing full accessibility in other browsers, see our "try 1" version of this accessibility page.

Be aware that this Accessibility statement is written fairly generically to apply across all International Studies and Programs (ISP) websites and for any other websites that are put within that standardized framework. That framework is being developed and deployed as rapidly as possible though finalization for some 40+ sites is not anticipated until sometime in 2011. As user benefits you will get some consistent features across ISP (and related) websites plus see new features instantly across all websites within the framework.

We are continually seeking out solutions that will bring all areas of the site up to the same level of overall web accessibility. In the meantime should you experience any difficulty in accessing the Office for International Students and Scholars | International Studies and Programs website, please don't hesitate to contact us: website@isp.msu.edu

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Access Keys (numeric, 0-9)

Keyboard Shortcuts
Key Target Description
0 Accesibility Brings you to this accesibility page
1 Home Takes you to site home page
2 Skip to Content Skips the header and Navigation links, focusing the browser on the begining of the page content
3 Interactive Accessibility Turn on (or back to default) all Interactive Accessibility features. The features may include bolded links, page width using nearly the full browser width (i.e., liquid layout), disabling JavaScript that may not work reliably for keyboard only use, distinguishing between visited and non-visited links
4 Search Places cursor in the Search field (by magnifying glass icon)
5 Bold Links Turn on (or off) content area Bolding of Links (and focus/active link highlighting) on sites where link bolding is not standard
6 Site Map Brings you to the site map
7 Main Menu Place cursor on main navigation
8 Contact Brings you to contact page and info
9 Footer Menu Skip to footer menu

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Using Access Keys

Access keys were introduced with the HTML 4.0 recommendations, which include the "accesskey" attribute for links. While the standard calls for alpha-numeric keys, browser authors have chosen to grab the alpha keys for their own use leaving only numeric ones for accessibility (or any) site author use. Also there is no standard way of using access keys and even within a browser an accesskey, depending on what it applies to, may simply land you somewhere or it may actually take an action. If you need to use the accesskeys for accessibility reasons, the following table shows how they are implemented in web browsers and operating systems that we support accessibility in at the time of this writing:

Using Access Keys
Windows
Browser How to use

I.E. 4-present

Netscape to 5 (then see FireFox)

ALT-AccessKey, then ENTER to activate.
For example: To get to the home page, hold down ALT-1 (Digit 1 on Qwerty keyboard) and then press ENTER.
FireFox ALT-SHIFT-AccessKey, then ENTER to activate.
For example: To get to the home page, hold down ALT-SHIFT-1 (Digit 1 on Qwerty keyboard) and then press ENTER.
Google Chrome ALT-AccessKey
For example: To get to the home page, hold down ALT-1 (Digit 1 on Qwerty keyboard).
Macintosh
Browser How to use

Firefox2

CONTROL-AccessKey
For example: To get to the Home page, hold down CONTROL-2.
Note: Some systems may require users to hold down CONTROL-COMMAND-AccessKey. Others may require users to click on the page first. See footnote2 if you really want accessibility on a Macintosh.

Browser Non-Support

The following browser versions and earlier do not support access keys:

  • Netscape 4 and Opera 6 for Windows;
  • Internet Explorer 4.x, Mozilla, Netscape 4, and Opera 5 for Mac OS 9;
  • Mozilla, OmniWeb 4, and Safari for Mac OS X 10.

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Accessibility/Utility Feature Menu

Accessibility/Utility Feature Menu (generally above Search in top right corner)
Item Purpose
PRINT Printer friendly version of the page
EMAIL Email a link to this page to a friend
VIEW Switch between fixed layout (narrow) and liquid layout(expands to the width of the browser window)
SET If your browser is set to allow cookies you may click "SET" to save your current settings, such as wide or narrow mode, so that the next time you return to the website your settings will be automatically restored

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Cookies and Settings Defaults

A cookie is set up when you click the "SET" item (see below for more information). This cookie saves your current accessibility settings. To restore settings to the default click: Restore Default Settings. If your browser settings prohibit cookies you will always get the default page settings regardless though you can apply settings you want for each page you display.

To make your current accessibility settings standard across all ISP websites please click the button below. Your existing site-specific settings (if any) are listed below and will be overwritten unless you uncheck the corresponding checkbox before clicking the 'Standardize Settings' button.

Current Accessibility Settings
Website Overwrite

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Supported Browsers

The following are the browsers we test pages in. No other browsers are tested nor will they be.

  • Internet Explorer v6 (and later)
  • Firefox (Current version only, Mac2 and Windows)
  • Safari (Current Mac version only)
  • Chrome (Current Windows version only)
  • Opera (Current Windows version only and only for viewability, not accessibility)

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General Information

In order to better serve those who use this site, the following steps have been taken to ensure this site is accessible to everyone. Only the fundamental, not all, accessibility features are on by default. In general, ISP sites use your selected text size for display when you are in "wide" mode (more below). Most sites will default to wide mode but, for design reasons, some sites, such as the main ISP site, default to narrow mode. You can reset the mode ("VIEW" feature) and have your preference remembered if you allow a cookie on your computer ("SET" feature). You can set the width for all pages as wide as your screen, or more, and most pages can also display in quite narrow confines. Also everything that works by JavaScript also works by other means with little difference in user interaction (there may be slight differences in screen display and refresh)1. In general, images are not necessary for the full benefit of the site (though photo galleries do lose something in the translation to text). There is no place where color comprehension is of required significance.

All of the MSU Accessibility Section I: Required Checkpoints and most of the Section II: Recommended Checkpoints are met by the default settings. All those checkpoints are met when the additional interactive accessibility features are turned on by using ALT-3. How the Access Keys, AKA ALT-keys, work is browser specific as described above.

And a word about tab stops, known as tabindexes in HTML parlance. Windows Firefox and Internet Explorer have a \"natural\" tab sequence that moves the user through clickable links and form fields in the sequence in which they appear in the physical document. Unfortunately once you code in one tabindex you practically must put them all in since valid landing places without tabindexes always follow those with. Therefore our pages or forms are completely created and laid out so that \"natural\" tab order works - if, of course, each form developer adheres to the rules. If you find a form that doesn't follow the rules, let us know at website@isp.msu.edu.

You may gather from all this that browser builders, not web page developers, have a long way to go to get any real semblance of consistent and useable accessibility. Anyone, even a browser developer, is welcome to email the ISP Web Development team (website@isp.msu.edu) with links or well written instructions on how specifically to implement accessibility features for specific browsers. Whether the information is for users to set up options in a browser or for us to do additional (but not ridiculous) development any feedback is welcome.

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Section 508 Compliance

We are striving to be in compliance with the provisions of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Unfortunately there are not always bright-line guidelines that can be met to know when one is, or is not, fully in compliance. We believe we are in compliance at the moment for most things as the default however, a fuller accessibility implementation is accessible via ALT-3. The issue is made difficult by browser incompatibilities. In default mode, for example, in drop-down selection lists we are in compliance with the "keyboard use of forms" on browsers such as Firefox and Safari that only trigger the onchange() event when a dropdown list item is actually selected. If you have JavaScript on, we are not in compliance on browsers such as Internet Explorer and Opera which (mistakenly) perform the onchange() event every time the DOWN ARROW key is pressed, i.e., you can only DOWN ARROW to the first selection choice before being instantly taken there via JavaScript code. Using our ALT-3 accessibility mode you can get the proper keyboard behavior in all browsers or, in Internet Explorer you can turn off JavaScript in your security settings1 and in Opera (and most browsers) you can turn JavaScript off somewhere among the settings for content or web pages. In Opera (and most other browsers) with JavaScript off you can tab to any drop-down selection list, DOWN ARROW to make a selection then TAB, ENTER to go to the submit button then press the ENTER key to process the selected choice.

Page Design

All pages are coded in XHTML 1.0 Transitional. The mark-up is mainly used for semantic purposes, and is in in compliance with the standards of this language. To support the widest range of browsers we do, however, occasionally use a table structure for layout purposes. We use the smallest table structure necessary to achieve the visual objective and either summarize the purpose as "layout" or just empty quotes. Such table structures will read row (by row) across columns exactly as if the contents were in a list, i.e., they will linearize correctly. Most visual presentation is implemented with Cascading Style Sheets.

More Information on Accessible Web Sites

MSU Web Accessibility Information
The Michigan State University web accessibility guidelines and related pages.
Dive Into Accessibility
An online book written and maintained by accessibility expert Mark Pilgrim. An excellent place to start.
The U.S. Access Board
A Federal agency devoted to accessibility. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act is the work of this board.
Web Accessibility Initiative
An initiative of the World Wide Web consortium, the purpose of which is to pursue accessibility of the Web through five primary areas of work: technology, guidelines, tools, education and outreach, and research and development.

1More on Windows Internet Explorer JavaScript: To turn off JavaScript (which is minimally used in this site and which is never essential) in Internet Explorer you can set the "Zone Setting" to "Restricted" by locating the zone status information along the bottom edge of the Internet Explorer browser window (it will say normally "Internet" in an area toward the right end of the status bar. Double click that then pick the "Restricted" zone choice then click the "Sites" button and add www.isp.msu.edu. You can double check that JavaScript is off by clicking the "Custom level..." button then toward the bottom finding "Scripting" "Active Scripting" and being sure the "Disable" option is selected. (If you already have JavaScript off for the "Internet Zone" then it is off for our site too, no need to make us a restricted site.)

2More on Mac Firefox: You may wish to examine an Accessibility Extension for Firefox available at http://firefox.cita.uiuc.edu/index.php. Extension Add-ons for Firefox are user login specific. And, what's worse, for a multiple user Mac, Firefox may NOT update for individual users, only for the original user that installed it though the other users will use the new version on their next login. At least that is my experience. For the non-initial installer, the Firefox update process does go through all the motions and appears to have completed correctly however, once the user closes Firefox and reopens it, whatever old version the initial installer last did will be what the user gets, not the "just installed" version. I have no idea what the implications are for "automatic updates" of the Accessibility Extension given that the extension install IS login user specific, an install to the initial installer's login--again, at least in my limited experience--DOES NOT become visible to other individual login users. (Without "All Controls" checked, an access key that is to take you to the start of a menu takes you there visually but then there is no way whatsoever to move into and through the menu. Neither TAB nor OPTION-TAB get you into the page or its content. It may help some if you have checked the Firefox Preferences > Advanced > General > "Always use the cursor keys to navigate within pages" check box but you'll need to push the up and/or then down key several times to finally land somewhere that you can then see where you are and even then it will help tremendously if you have turned on the ISP bolded links feature if links are not bold by default.)

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