Inventorying Your IT for Accessibility

Why Inventory

Preparing for the SPG. A first step in preparing for the Accessibility SPG is to list exactly what Information Technology (IT) your unit is responsible for and to catalog factors that will determine how you prioritize the IT for review and remediation.

Data is good. If you have a large unit (or your unit is very distributed) and your IT is extensive, knowing what you have on hand is a good thing in itself.

Elevated risk is not good. Not knowing what IT you are responsible for and not knowing how accessible it is does not shield your unit from accountability if a user encounters a barrier. It also does not shield the university from legal liability. Accessibility is like information security: ignorance is not bliss.

What is IT

IT is—but is not limited to—websites, web applications, mobile and desktop applications, learning materials, documents, eBooks, and electronic media (video, audio).

How to Inventory

In order to address accessibility compliance, you will need to collect specific information for all of your unit's IT. This will need to be a team effort.

Who to Involve

  • System owners. They know their IT and will be able to answer your questions better than anyone else. Any inventory is always going to be an approximation.

  • Your unit's DEI team. Accessibility at its core is about diversity, equity, and inclusion, but we deliver impact and solutions primarily through equitable technological solutions. Your DEI team should have the ability to galvanize effort across the organization in a way that emphasizes sound IT practices (Accessibility) and DEI. Additionally, individuals who staff DEI teams are embedded in the very teams we are taking inventories from, and already have buy-in at the executive level based on the university’s commitment to DEI.

The Process

Important: To be useful, this inventory must be a living document that is updated as IT gets added, retired, or changed.

Info to Collect

For each system or system, list:

  • Description of the IT, what it is, and what it does
  • Audience/users (students, staff, faculty, external users)
  • Estimated number of users in each role who use the IT
  • Owners or managers (those who can authorize work on the IT and can delegate)
  • Criticality of the IT to the unit and university
  • Existence of accessibility compliance documentation, if any
  • Whether there has been prior accessibility testing
  • Is the IT ready for testing, including test accounts and QA scripts
  • Who controls the application (unit controls, vendor, mixed)
  • If there are existing analytics: usage patterns, numbers
  • How frequently the IT is updated
  • The vendor and/or technology stack
  • IT lifecycle: is the system new, growing, mature, or ready to be retired?
  • Existence of other systems that perform the same function

Also list whether the "owner" (whether an individual, team, vendor, mixed) of the system:

  • Has a demonstrable understanding of the university's obligations regarding accessibility
  • Has a demonstrable understanding of the accessibility compliance guidelines
  • Trains its members in accessibility
  • Has an accommodation plan in case barriers are encountered
  • Includes accessibility in company or team policy
  • Has compliance documentation
  • Tests for accessibility
  • Prioritizes fixing accessibility errors
  • Commits to having a roadmap for remediation in case the system turns out not to be accessible

Tips for Efficiency

Since you'll be inventorying all the IT in your unit, there are a couple of best practices that might make the process easier:

  • Segment it into logical functional parts. This is especially important if a given IT is very extensive, as it will help in later steps of the process.

  • Consider starting prioritization during inventory. You'll be doing the prioritization exercise after this one, but the value of starting some of it now is that you might choose to exclude IT that has an extremely low priority. You still need to catalog it - but it may not be necessary to gather all of the information outlined above for those systems.