Accessibility of Digital Content and Materials Standard


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Standard on Accessibility of Digital Content, Resources, and Technology



The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ("UNC-Chapel Hill" or "University") is committed to creating a welcoming and fair digital experience.

This standard sets out the minimum requirements for creating accessible digital content, resources, and technology ("digital materials") that are easy to access for everyone, regardless of ability or disability. The goal of this is to follow the University’s policy on digital accessibility and to provide fair access to digital material.

Everyone who plays a role in maintaining University digital material should make sure that it is accessible.


Everyone who distributes, hosts, or gets digital material for the University must follow this standard.

This standard applies to all University digital material whether it faces the public, or requires a log-in, examples include:

  • Websites;
  • Video and audio content;
  • Electronic documents;
  • Desktop, mobile, and cloud-based software applications;
  • Content and learning management systems;
  • Tools and platforms;
  • Email and calendars;
  • Library resources;
  • Social media;
  • Products for digital research; and
  • Digital content and materials used in a course.


New Digital Material provided by the University must be accessible. The only exceptions are when it would cause a significant change or expense to the material. In the Americans with Disabilities Act this is a "Fundamental Alteration or Undue Burden."

New Digital Material must meet minimum accessibility requirements. The following requirements apply to specific types of content, resources, and technology:

  • Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended;
  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA; and
  • Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0 for tools that support web content authoring (like HTML editors, software for generating websites, multimedia authoring tools, wikis and blogs, etc.).

The University follows "universal design" principles. This Standard describes requirements that help us do that. The goal is to create equity through a welcoming digital experience for a wide range of people regardless of ability, disability, or whether people use assistive technology.

University units must identify and prioritize Existing Digital Material that is not accessible and create an action plan to make it accessible. This should be treated as a priority and be done in a timely manner. Making content accessible is a process, not a project. Even if some content is planned for later action, if the University unit gets a request for the content, that content must be made accessible. In the event Existing Digital Material cannot be made accessible, the University unit must provide an Equally Effective Alternative.

University units may choose to fix digital material in a priority order. If an accommodation request comes in, that material must move to the top of the list. Priorities may be based on available resources, audience scope, and amount or size of the request or content.

If a user must interact with the digital material in an unexpected way, make workarounds available. If a user has to input or interact with something to use access features, provide them with instructions they can find. If you make alternative versions of digital material available as a "reasonable alternative," it needs to be easy to find. Document what you’re doing to address material that might not be accessible. University units may use people at the University or third parties to make digital material accessible. The University unit responsible for the digital material will pay for the work. University units must provide a link or other form of contact information connected to all digital material. The contact is for people to report trouble accessing the material because it is not meeting the University's accessibility rules.

Ongoing Accessibility Evaluation

University units must continuously evaluate their digital material to ensure it meets this Standard. University units must assign resources to this ongoing evaluation. That includes assigning an appropriate number of Digital Accessibility Liaisons. Units may request consultation and training from the Digital Accessibility Office. University units may go about evaluating using many different methods. Those may include automated testing, expert help, manual testing, and user testing.

In addition to individual University unit evaluations, the Digital Accessibility Office manages an ongoing, targeted evaluation process of high priority digital material. 


1. Minimal Use

If some specific conditions apply, a small exception may be used to buy and use digital material that is not necessarily accessible enough:

  1. the material will be used by a small number of identified individual(s) (such as a small office or a research lab), and
  2. the responsible University unit confirms that the digital material is accessible to those people.

In that case, the digital material does not need to be evaluated or fixed as this Standard would require otherwise. An Equally Effective Alternative is not required. If the group of people who use the digital material changes, then this exception no longer applies.

This exception is not to be used when digital material is intended for long-term use or by unknown future people. If a person using the material tells the University unit about an accessibility need, that must be handled and this exception does not apply. Once the exception no longer applies, the digital material must follow the other parts of this Standard. 

2. Fundamental Alteration or Undue Burden

If an Equally Effective Alternative cannot be provided because it would make a fundamental alteration or cause an undue burden, or if another requirement of this standard cannot be met, the University unit responsible for the digital material must use the following process to request an exception:

  1. Confirm the head of the University unit responsible for the material approves asking for an exception.
  2. Submit an exception request via The request must include detailed information about how you have tried to make the digital material accessible or to provide an Equally Effective Alternative. Include information about why it is not possible to make the digital material accessible and why providing an Equally Effective Alternative would impose a fundamental alteration or undue burden. The Digital Accessibility Office will review the requests.
  3. Representatives from the Digital Accessibility Office, the Office of the University Counsel, the Digital Accessibility Advisory Team, and/or Digital Accessibility Liaison program will conduct reviews. Afterwards, the Digital Accessibility Office will notify the unit about whether the exception is approved.

If the exception is not approved, the Digital Accessibility Office may help the University unit to make a plan. The University unit may look for other vendors with similar products or try other methods to get the result they want.

The request will be documented and the decision will be explained in writing. It can be provided on request. Those decisions are final.


  • Accessible: Able to be used by anyone, including people with disabilities, with or without assistive technology.
  • Digital Content and Materials (Digital Content, Resources, and/or Technology): Information, products, and services available for download or distribution electronically, or on a web page or computer application.
  • Equally Effective Alternative: A way that communicates the same information and does the same things in a timely a way.
  • Existing Digital Material: Includes all Digital Content and materials developed or bought before the effective date of this Standard, includingany that is archived.
  • New Digital Material: Includes all Digital Content and materials developed or bought after the effective date of this Standard.
  • University Business: Activities carried out on behalf of UNC-Chapel Hill. University Business does not include activities organized or done by students unless the University has asked them to act on behalf of the University. Activity by student organizations is not University Business.
  • Usability: How well people can use digital material to achieve their goals and are satisfied with the experience.

Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

Contact Information

Policy Contacts

ITS Policy Office

  • Unit: Office of the Vice Chancellor for IT and CIO 
  • Email: 
  • Online: (service request) 

Digital Accessibility Office

  • Unit: Office of the Vice Chancellor for IT and CIO 
  • Email: 
  • Online: (service request) 

Other Contacts

  • UNC Digital Accessibility Office's "Report a Digital Accessibility Issue" webpage. 
  • 919-962-HELP. 
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Article ID: 131329
Thu 4/8/21 9:06 PM
Thu 12/14/23 12:08 PM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Digital Accessibility Office
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
12/13/2026 12:00 AM
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
12/13/2026 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
12/17/2019 12:53 PM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
12/07/2020 2:14 PM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
12/17/2019 12:53 PM

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