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Performing a College Campus Accessibility Audit

by Christopher Lee, Adult Topics Committee
by Christopher Lee, Adult Topics Committee

Students need to make sure the college they choose is addressing the Accessibility of Emerging Technology

“It is unacceptable for universities to use emerging technology without insisting that this technology be accessible to all students.” (U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education, Joint “Dear Colleague Letter,” 2010, para. 5)

In light of increasing awareness about state and federal accessibility requirements, post-secondary educational institutions are now starting to require accessibility standards before they develop, purchase, or distribute applications and tools that might restrict students with learning disabilities from having equal access to course content.

As high school students are choosing a college, there are several action steps and questions they should ask to ensure the campus they are considering is moving towards an inclusive environment by addressing a road map of accessible information and communication technology.  To ensure the college is seriously implementing electronic accessibility a campus accessibility audit could be performed.  Below are a few ideas to consider helping with audit.

  1. Does the college home webpage have an “Accessiblity” link?
  2. Run the college home website through the WAVE Website Accessible Evaluation Tool. WAVE is a free tool.  Just copy the website address into the address box.  Notice how many red errors and yellow alerts are highlighted.
  3. Does the Accessibility Statement or supporting documentation address the institution’s commitment to accessibility?  A sample website can be found at California State University, Fresno .
  4. Do the Accessibility Statement and/or supporting documentation mention faculty and staff commitment to accessibility?
  5. Does the disability support office provide digital accessibility material (i.e. textbooks)?
  6. What textbook formats are provided (i.e. DAISY, PDF and DOC)?
  7. Does the campus have a membership with the Association of American Publisher’s AccessText Network? Do they use the free Accessible Textbook Finder to locate accessible textbooks?
  8. Is the campus disability office active on the Disabled Student Services in Higher Education (DSSHE-LISTSERVE.BUFFALO.EDU) listserv? DSSHE is free. Sign up and monitor the listserv for a few months. Make sure to choose the daily digest. The email is plentiful.

Technology accessibility is not just a college campus issue, but a global issue that governments, the private sector, and nonprofits are being required to address.  Organizations like the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ict) are trying to facilitate and support the implementation of the dispositions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities regarding the accessibility of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) and assistive technologies.  There are several annual conferences and listservs which address accessibility ICT topics. One of the primary organizations in this field is WebAIM .

As an LDA member if you are interested in additional articles and webinars on how accessible electronic information can benefit adults and children with learning disabilities, please contact Adult Topics Committee member Christopher Lee .

 

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