Making a campus map accessible is essential for many reasons. First, an accessible campus map ensures that all students have equal access to the same information. Second, it can help with wayfinding and navigation on campus for students who are new to the school or campus. Finally, in some cases, creating an accessible campus map is required by law.
This article will discuss how to make your campus map accessible. We will cover the basics of what makes a campus map inaccessible and provide tips on how to make your map more user-friendly for everyone.
Understanding how to make your campus map accessible starts with understanding the four basic categories of disabilities:
Each category of disability presents its unique challenges when trying to use a campus map. For example, a campus map only available in print presents problems for someone with a visual impairment. Likewise, a campus map that only provides direction through auditory cues shows difficulties for a student with a hearing impairment.
Moreover, it is essential to remember that not all campus maps must be made accessible for all four categories of disabilities. Likely, your campus map will only need to be accessible for one or two classes of disabilities. The best way to determine which category or categories of disabilities your campus map needs to be accessible is to survey your campus community and assess their needs.
Before making any changes to your campus map, it is essential to understand how users with disabilities interact with campus maps online.
Users with visual impairments often use screen readers to convert web page text into synthesized speech or refreshable braille displays. For screen readers to be able to read the campus map, the map must be created using HTML5. Additionally, campus maps should include alt text for each map’s features.
Users who are deaf or have hearing impairments may have difficulty using campus maps that include auditory cues. These auditory cues can be provided through speech-to-text software or by adding videos with sign language interpretation to the campus map.
Users with motor/mobility impairments can use campus maps that include drop-down menus, keyboard shortcuts, and clickable elements. These features allow users to interact with the campus map without using a mouse.
Users with cognitive/intellectual disabilities can use campus maps that are simple and easy to understand. The campus map should be free of clutter and include only essential information. Additionally, the campus map should be easy to navigate and use consistent labeling.
Now that you understand how users with disabilities interact with campus maps online, you should consider a few factors when making your campus map accessible.
The format of your campus map is critical to consider because it will determine how users with disabilities can access your map. For example, if your campus map is only available in print, users with visual impairments will not be able to use it. Similarly, if your campus map is only available online, it may be challenging to use for students with motor/mobility impairments.
The layout of your campus map is also essential to consider because it can affect the usability of your map. A cluttered and busy campus map will be more difficult for any user to navigate, but it will be especially difficult for users with cognitive/intellectual disabilities. Simplifying the layout will benefit all users.
The design of your campus map is important to consider because it can affect the usability and aesthetics of your map. For example, if your campus map is not colorblind friendly, users with colorblindness will have difficulty using your map. Regarding aesthetics, if your campus map isn’t visually appealing, users may be less likely to use your map.
Finally, the functionality of your campus map is important to consider because it can determine how user-friendly your map is. For example, if your campus map is not compatible with screen readers, users with visual impairments will not be able to use your map. Similarly, if your campus map is incompatible with assistive technologies, users with motor/mobility impairments may have difficulty using your map.
StudentBridge is a digital engagement platform that helps colleges and universities increase student enrollment. Our platform includes interactive campus maps that are accessible to all. We also have a personalized campus tour app called VisiTOUR™ that helps students explore campus and find their way around to campus features.
You may not see it, but our digital solutions have a lot going on behind the scenes. Our StudentBridge tech platform is responsible for keeping everything running smoothly – from our websites and portals to mobile apps. It’s a complex system that is constantly evolving to meet the needs of our clients and their end users.
You can also check our webinars that discuss topics such as Essential Strategies For Hybrid Events and Responding to COVID-19 in Higher Ed. Our webinars are conducted by experts who have years of experience in the field. You can join our next webinar by registering here.
We recently collaborated with Wayne State University on a project to improve their enrollment recruiting operations and communicate an honest narrative from a student’s perspective. Though the Wayne State staff utilized several channels, including print, digital, television, and radio, they desired a solution that would allow them to centralize and measure their promotional efforts.
Wayne State needed a way to direct all prospective students to a single area, so the institution utilized StudentBridge’s Video Viewbook and Interactive Campus Map. Wayne State can now provide a quick glimpse into campus life through its immersive digital experiences by directing visitors to its StudentBridge site first rather than its .edu domain.
A campus accessibility map is vital to campus life. It provides the campus community with an easy way to find buildings, classrooms, and other campus amenities. However, a campus map is only accessible if designed and created with accessibility in mind. Consider your map’s format, layout, design, and functionality when making a campus map — making even small changes can make a big difference in the accessibility of your campus map.
Accessibility is not an extra feature; it’s a necessity.
By making your campus map accessible, you’re making campus life easier for those with disabilities and making campus life better for everyone.