HESC Web Accessibility Policy

The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) is committed to providing equivalent access to its website (http://www.hesc.ny.gov) to persons with disabilities.

This website is subject to the requirements of NYS Policy NYS-P08-005, “Accessibility of Web Based Information and Applications” which can be found at:

NYS-P08-005 Accessibility of Web Based Information and Applications

New York State Policy NYS P08-005 establishes minimum accessibility requirements for web-based Information and applications developed, procured, maintained or used by state entities. The goal of the policy is to encourage a more inclusive state workforce and increase the availability of governmental services to all members of the public.

Questions regarding this policy should be directed to the ITS Public Information Office at [email protected].

Accessibility means all HESC customers with disabilities have access to Web-based information and data comparable to the access given to customers who do not have disabilities. This is achieved by implementing the concept of "universal design." Websites developed to meet "universal design" guidelines are accessible to as many visitors as possible. Such sites are accessible to individuals using a variety of browsers, text-only browsers, slow modems, no audio output, and to people using assistive technologies to access the Internet. The text used throughout the website is clear and simple, and the mechanisms for navigating within and among pages are understandable.

HESC will apply the most current version of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Accessibility Guidelines in the design, creation and maintenance of its website content and all transactions that rely on Web browsers for content presentation. HESC's Web content and transactions will conform with level "A," satisfying all priority one checkpoints, unless an "undue hardship" would be imposed on the agency. An "undue hardship" is defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as a significant difficulty or expense incurred by a covered entity. It refers to any accommodation that would be unduly costly, extensive, substantial, or disruptive, or that would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business.

HESC's director of corporate relations and internet initiatives is responsible for implementing technology policies 96-13 and 99-3. The accessibility liaison is responsible for disseminating the W3C Guidelines and subsequent updates to appropriate agency staff and any consultants or vendors who develop websites and/or content for HESC. The liaison is also responsible for monitoring and approving Web content to ensure materials posted are accessible.

You can contact HESC with your accessibility questions and comments, or to report any portion of the agency website that you may have difficulty accessing, via e-mail at [email protected]. For a quicker response, please write “accessibility” in the subject line of your e-mail, and indicate the nature of your accessibility problem, the preferred format in which to receive the material, the Web address of the requested material, the Web browser you are using, and your contact information in the body of the e-mail.

HESC will try to provide published documents in a usable format to citizens with disabilities.

The HESC website provides a text-only version of the home page, and visitors are able to view most of the site’s content using any browser. Older browsers, however, may not work with some of the agency’s Web applications.

HESC has taken steps to make all of its website content and applications as accessible as possible. Such steps include:

Alternative Text: Text descriptions are provided for non-text contents, including images, pictures, image map regions, animations, applets and programmatic objects, ASCII art, frames, scripts, and images used as list bullets, spacers, and graphical buttons used on the website. These descriptions allow visitors using screen readers to access information provided by images and pictures.

Multi Browser Testing: HESC tests all new websites with multiple browsers to make sure users are not blocked from using the applications. The agency will make sure the new websites are accessible with all major browsers being used by its website visitors.

Staff Training: HESC staff have attended several training sessions offered by the State Office for Technology (OFT) and others on how to develop accessible websites. As needed, HESC will hire consultants to make Web applications accessible.

Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and HESC Contracts: All requests for proposals issued and contracts signed by HESC require consultants/vendors who develop any website content and applications that rely on Web browsers for content presentation meet the latest version of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Accessibility Guidelines.