Preparing for the Accessibility SPG

Information Technology (IT) Accessibility Policy

What it is: IT Accessibility policies articulate the rights that students, staff, faculty, and visitors with disabilities have to access IT applications and digital content.

What it will cover: All units in all campuses. Websites, software, documents, etc.

How it will operate: All units will adopt processes that ensure that they buy and develop IT that is accessible. All units will prioritize existing IT, review and remediate it, respond to complaints, and provide accommodation where needed. Deans, department heads, and directors should appoint members of their unit to guide these matters, and will report periodically on the state of their IT to the Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs and the Vice President for Information Technology.

What success looks like:  Measurable, meaningful, and sustained progress.

Getting Started

  1. Allocate resources
    You will need some resources to get started on the activities detailed below. The extent of these will depend on the size of your unit and the extent of your IT. The Accessibility team can assist you in estimating the effort needed.

  2. Designate a liaison
    This liaison will be the point of contact between your unit and the IT Accessibility Initiative Team. This person should be positioned to ask questions to departments within a unit to understand where they might be falling short and where they may need help.

  3. Set up training
    Identify needs related to accessibility. Identify the roles of individuals who may impact accessibility, and talk with the Accessibility team about training options. Consider including training on how to improve accessibility practices in an annual staff meeting.

  4. Address current IT
    Inventory websites, web applications, software and documents that are necessary to your unit and your customers. After that:

 

Prioritize

Assess 

Document 

Remediate

What you  do

Rank your IT according to its importance to the unit and the degree of risk it poses.

Start assessing the accessibility of your IT, starting with the IT with the highest priority

For each IT:

Write an assessment report
Document barriers
Provide accommodation plan

For each IT:

Address the issues by priority

Schedule assessments for upgrades/changes

How we help

We will provide you with a system to help you determine the priority of each element in your IT and assist you  with any questions you may have

We will provide you with training, documentation and assistance in assessing the IT.

In some cases we can do the assessment for you.

We will provide you with report templates, help you prioritize barriers and formulate accommodation plans.

We provide  documentation for fixes

We will validate fixes on request

  1. Address future IT in procurement
    Incorporate accessibility requirements in contracts and RFPs. This will introduce a certain amount of friction but we have processes that keep this to a minimum.

  2. Address future IT in development
    Include accessibility as a goal from the beginning in the development of websites, web applications, and mobile apps and in the creation of content. Consider it in each of the stages: planning, design and user experience, development iterations, quality assurance, documentation, and updates.

Elements of a Successful Accessibility Effort

Keep your approach simple and iterative, small steps add up and result in measurable progress in your unit’s:

Commitment
Have conversations with your unit’s leadership team to discuss a strategy for accessibility that embraces training, design, and development workflows. Develop a culture of accountability around products and processes, allocate resources (time, space, or funding) towards accessibility, and have your unit publicly commit to accessibility.

Culture
Be sure staff in your unit know the importance of accessibility and understand its relationship to DEI. The unit as a whole should be committed to providing equal access. Staff also should continue to improve their accessibility knowledge and skills consonant with their roles.

Compliance
Look periodically for increases in the number of products or processes your accessibility program reaches and affects, the number of requests for proposals (RFPs) or contracts that include accessibility requirements, and the amount of accessibility reviews you conduct on your IT. Regarding the latter, look for positive changes in the scores of the reviews.

Communication
Assess progress and report on the state of accessibility to unit leads: wins, losses, roadblocks.

Collaboration

Find ways to talk with colleagues in other units working toward the same goals that have similar structures, missions, or other institutional characteristics. Ask for help, both on campus and by talking with other institutions that have accessibility strategies.