The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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ADA rules influence CSUN web redesign

A new CSUN Web site was launched June 12 after it had undergone reconstruction to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The new home page is a template that will be the model from which other university Web pages will be developed.

Joseph O’Connor, manager of University Web Communications, spearheaded the effort through University Advancement in cooperation with Academic Resources and Information Technology Resources. He said the biggest challenge with the project was creating a homepage that was both ADA compliant and maintained a sense of style.

O’Connor said he and the Web Communications Management Committee originally consulted with 20 to 30 different Web producers who represented the diverse needs of the CSUN community. He said eventually all the pages linked to the home page will be made over to be accessible to all persons.

“It only gets better from here,” O’Connor said.

Fred Dukes, executive assistant of Mohammed Qayoumi, administration and finance vice president, and Web Communications Management Committee member, said the Web redesign is an ongoing process and he expects the site to be constantly changing and improving.

“Intuitive, helpful and friendly” are words Dukes said he hopes will describe the new site. Dukes said the home page was the easy part and now there is much work to be done to redesign the web layers linked to the rest of the campus.

“This project is fluid,” Dukes said, “just like any living document.”

Dukes said the CSUN Web site is the school’s face to the outside world and a major tool for the CSUN community. He also acknowledges the recent shift with the Web site – being the main source of communication with the public, where individuals involved in Web design must balance technical operations with the task of communicating with a diverse audience.

Ken Swisher, another member of the Web Communications Management Committee, identified ADA compliance as the main reason for redesigning the CSUN home page and other campus sites linked to the site.

“A number of campuses have been sued for non-compliance,” Swisher said. “But more than that, it was the right thing to do.”

Swisher said the new design is different, more consistent and will be more cohesive with other pages on campus. The site also boasts improved functionality, ease and user-friendly links. The old design did not even allow users to increase font size according to Joseph O’Connor.

Swisher also said the old site was stagnant, whereas the new site features automated alternating banners that he expects will keep the page fresh and bring more traffic through the Web site.

Swisher said despite the hardship of finding visually impressive flexibility within the limitations of ADA compliance, one triumph the committee experienced was receiving funding for the project. Other campuses had an average of five central persons responsible for Web issues, CSUN only had the equivalent of one third of one position available Swisher said.

The committee plans to share the template soon and offer software training to make other campus Web sites ADA compliant and consistent with the home page design, Swisher said.

Mary Ann Cummins Prager, director of the Center on Disabilities, is also on the Web Communications Management Committee. She said the Center on Disabilities serves as more than just a resource for students and persons with disabilities.

“Resources have to be accessible per University policy and it’s the law,” Prager said.

She said the Web redesign served to make the CSUN site more accessible to persons using different assistive technology. Prager said persons with disabilities must have full access to all resources on campus, whether in the classroom or off campus, adding that CSUN must provide electronic capacities.

“Persons with disabilities have a legal right to participate as do all persons,” Prager said.

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