State Research University

Noncompliant chaos turned into organized success with digital accessibility strategy.

The Problem

A decentralized organization faced legal risk for their noncompliance and had no plan for becoming accessible.

How We Helped

We created an enforceable digital accessibility plan for sustained compliance long into the future.

Research into digital accessibility hurdles specific to the university drove plan definition.


Analytics Investigation, Manual Accessibility Testing, Expert Reviews, Benchmark Comparison, Interviews (Students, Faculty, Staff)

High-level findings about the current situation from a digital accessibility roadmap. The left column lists 2 themes/issues, one sentence each, while the right column briefly outlines 3 recommendations and reasoning for each.

Recommendations Born from Findings. Research uncovered problems hindering digital accessibility and an actionable path to better practices.

Understanding the Cost of Noncompliance

Numbers do not include the cost of fixing accessibility problems after these suits were settled.

Florida State University, 2021

Payouts and Attorney Fees

$150,000 Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

Miami University, 2016

Tuition Costs and Plaintiff + Attorney Fees

$250,000 Source: Miami University

Harvard University, 2020

Settlement Costs

$1,575,000 Source: Duane Morris, LLP

Law School Admission Council

Penalties, Damages, and Attorney Fees

$8,730,000 Source: United States Department of Justice
The great work truematter did was instrumental in giving us a solid foundation to work from.”
— Director of Digital Accessibility, State Research University

Business Goals light the path out of legal danger and toward cultural leadership.


Widespread Digital Properties Review, Interviews (Stakeholders, Leadership, Students, Faculty, Staff, Campus Groups), Competitive Analysis, Analytics Investigation

Digital accessibility roadmap Goals page, with the heading Foster inclusive culture and awareness, above a table for three objectives, a list of expected wins, and methods for measuring progress.

Long-Term Benefits and Value

Business goals address immediate needs alongside long-term opportunities.

The Digital Accessibility Challenge

Creating inclusive, accessible digital content has always been the right thing to do, and now the threat of litigation means the university has no time to lose.

Embrace digital accessibility to your very core and blaze the trail for the same commitment at other universities.

The Heart of the Strategy

This sets forth the university’s immediate need as a unique opportunity for long-term leadership.

Strategic Definition lays out a workable solution with help at every level.

Roadmap page for the Strategic Approach, with the heading Set up the university for leadership from day one, above three high-level recommendations and rationale.
Sweeping Changes. Recommendations reflect tactics to support a fundamental shift in the university’s approach to digital content.
Roadmap page for Digital Accessibility Roles / At-a-Glance. Two rows of four boxes lay out the eight major roles, their high-level responsibility, and sample user quote.
Roles Structure. Who is responsible for what parts of digital accessibility across the organization.
Roadmap page for Procedures / Ongoing Accessibility Issues. The left column lists the procedure: Enforcing the IT 7.0 Digital Accessibility Policy. The right column outlines the associated action, using headings and paragraph text.
Policy & Procedures. A newly written global policy and specific procedures to guide the effort at a university-wide level.

Implementation revolved around a framework of support and self-reliance.

Sample landing page for a digital accessibility training site, with prominent links and wayfinding for learning about digital accessibility, reporting issues, and browsing guides & tutorials based on role.
Part of Everyday Work. Self-guided and specialized support structure make compliance feasible for those creating digital content.
Sample detail page from a digital accessibility training guide on Accessible Labels, in a section on Color Usage. Requirements are outlined with the dos and donts, while progress is tracked with a status bar at the bottom of the page.
Task-Specific Training. Content creators learn digital accessibility practices that apply specifically to their daily work.

Accountability & Reporting

Regular, standardized accessibility reviews score compliance for individual digital properties and measure overall progress.

Personnel Support Network

Creation of new roles for expert leadership and oversight: The Director of Digital Accessibility and accessibility champions in every division.

Campus-Wide Education

Multiple open forum Q&A sessions and presentations to groups at every level supplemented overall education efforts.

Results showcase the returned value of a cogent, workable digital accessibility plan.

Long-Term Self Sufficiency

Sustained digital accessibility momentum  long after we’ve left the picture.

Inclusive Experiences for All

Content creators make digital accessibility practices part of their natural work process.

Support Leading to Cultural Shift

The more support and education offered, the deeper the commitment to the effort grows.

Relief from Legal Risk

Higher-ups rest easy in a time when digital accessibility lawsuits are extremely common.

  • 944K 943,868 Fewer Digital
    Accessibility Issues
  • 6,000 + Issues Identified in
    Expert Reviews
  • 90 + Attendees of Q&As
    and Open Forums
  • 51 Training Submodules Created
  • 35 + Accessibility Liaisons Identified
  • 52 Reviews of Major Digital Properties
  • 18 Program Procedures Established
  • 1,000 + Content Creators Served by Training
  • Zero Complaints from the Office of Civil Rights
The university wouldn’t be where it is today without the truematter team.”
— Chief Information Officer, State Research University

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