The University of Nevada, Reno, is pushing forward initiatives to make its online content completely accessible to people of all abilities by March 2020 in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the university’s 2018-2020 Accessibility Corrective Action Plan. More than 11 percent of the university’s student population reported having a disability in the 2011-2012 school year, and students of all abilities should be able to access their course materials without significant burden. 

The Nevada Sagebrush has reported on the university’s issues of accessibility — both physical and technological — but we must be doing more to ensure all of our readers can access our content, which is why we are supporting and following the university’s commitment to online accessibility. 

Readers and followers might have already noticed some changes in our content, and we will be making other changes as we continue to assess the quality of our online accessibility.

Last fall, the Nevada Sagebrush introduced our Instagram show, “The Brush Up.” “The Brush Up” is the newest addition to the Nevada Sagebrush’s multimedia projects and features weekly episodes that are around two minutes long. To ensure those with hearing disabilities know the contents of the show, the Nevada Sagebrush is going to diligently include subtitles from here on out on each episode. In addition to subtitles on “The Brush Up,” our YouTube videos will have subtitles from this point on to ensure all viewers can access our content.

In compliance with the ADA, the Nevada Sagebrush will also be ensuring our digital content is accessible by providing alternative text or “alt text.” By providing alternative text to spell out what exactly is occuring in our photos, those with visual impairments will be able to know what is going on in our photos if they are using screen readers. The Nevada Sagebrush will ensure we are as thorough as possible with image descriptions on our website.

In addition to alternative text on our website, we will be making sure every social media post on every platform — Instagram, Facebook and Twitter — has an image description within the post. By providing an image description, the screen reader will be able to read aloud what is happening in the photo for those who require the use of screen readers. 

These fixes are not hard and do not require a large amount of time. By implementing these small changes in the Nevada Sagebrush’s workflow, we will reach wider audiences and be accessible to more people. Everyone deserves the right to access all online content and we don’t want our mistakes to come between anyone and news coverage.

While the Nevada Sagebrush will be attending university trainings on accessibility, our main priority is our readers. If there is something we can be doing better, please let us know how we can improve to make all our content more accessible. 

The Nevada Sagebrush can be reached at oali@sagebrush.unr.edu.