For the third year running, our unique approach to web development at Nebraska has yielded a prestigious and important result ... Nebraska is once again listed among the "Sweet Sixteen" in Dr. Jon Gunderson's annual competitive review of higher ed websites in the critical area of accessibility. Gunderson, director of Disability Resources and Educational Services at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, unveils the newest version of his "Athletic Rivalries and Web Accessibility: Who Is in the Sweet 16 this Year?" rankings at the Educause Annual Conference each October.
'Accessibility' is, in the online environment, shorthand for a field of work defining how we support diversity and inclusion through technology. By equipping UNL web pages with the 'hooks' that allow screen readers to provide their users with meaning and context, and the ability to interact with the website, the builders of the UNL Web Framework and the builders of individual pages and websites in the UNL domain share a goal and a result of making the online environment as welcoming as possible for users with disabilities. This is not to say we've reached our ultimate goal, but the commitment is there and we can, at least, take note of our progress.
Nebraska entered the rankings at No. 15 in 2017, advanced to No. 9 in 2018, and to No. 4 this year; the latest advance undoubtedly due to the refresh of the website at both the framework and content levels this year. Truly, it's a team effort. The testing behind Gunderson's ranking is comprehensive, evaluating an average of 655 web pages at each of 152 universities this year. Effectively, this means that if you have a role as a maintainer of a website at UNL, chances are that one of your pages was evaluated. In the end, then, this is a recognition of the community of web development here at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
A round of applause is called for. Applause for everyone, and yep ... take a bow yourself.
Once that's done, let's set our sights on No. 1, and really on the most important goal of all: to support all of our site visitors, our students, faculty and staff in a way that truly, every day, demonstrates our commitment to diversity and inclusion. Go Big Red!