About AccessIT

The National Center on Accessible Information Technology in Education (AccessIT) was funded by a 5-year grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) of the U.S. Department of Education through September, 2006.

AccessIT's Knowledge Base, Web Design and Development Curriculum, Information Technology in Education Accessibility Checklist, and Accessible University Mock Site continue to be available online and managed and updated by AccessComputing, a project funded by the National Science Foundation (grant #CNS-0540615) and led by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and DO-IT at the University of Washington.

AccessIT staff wish to thank our associates worldwide for their interest in creating more inclusive education through accessible information technology, and hope that AccessIT has made a difference in providing a means to that end.

Access to information technology, from telephones to computer software, is essential for people with disabilities to fully participate in today's high tech world. The increasing use of technology presents remarkable opportunities for people with disabilities. However, information technology presents new accessibility challenges to those who have sensory, mobility, learning, and other disabilities. If we do not address these challenges and assure that information technology can be used by everyone, the potential for the Internet and other technologies as a great equalizer will go unrealized. AccessIT developed materials, and provided training and technical assistance to facilitate adoption of policies and practices leading to the increased use of accessible information technology in educational settings.

What are examples of accessible information technology in education?

  • Accessible web pages allow students with disabilities, including those who have sensory impairments, to access information; share their work; communicate with peers, teachers, and mentors; and take advantage of distance learning options.
  • Accessible instructional software (on disks, CDs or other media) and documentation allow students with disabilities to participate side-by-side with their peers in computer labs and classrooms as they complete assignments; collaborate with peers; create and view presentations, documents, spreadsheets; and actively participate in simulations and all other academic activities.
  • Accessible telecommunications and office equipment makes communication and educational administrative functions accessible to everyone, including those with mobility, visual and hearing impairments.

What Resources are Available Through AccessIT?

The AccessIT website is a resource for educational entities and their constituents regarding accessible information technology. The website includes accessibility checklists, best practices, frequently asked questions, links to resources, and case studies, tailored to applications of information technology in education. It features a searchable knowledge base of questions and answers, case studies, and promising practices.

Additional resources include a pair of videos related to IT accessibility, free web design course curriculum for high schools, an online course on IT accessibility, an IT in Education Accessibility Checklist, and a mock site for demonstrating web accessibility issues. These and other resources are listed and linked from the AccessIT Home Page.

Who can benefit from AccessIT?

  1. Policy makers, including school principals, district directors, technology directors, and others who develop policies, guidelines, and procedures regarding planning for and procuring information technology;
  2. Implementers, including educators (both in general education and special education, precollege and postsecondary), computer lab personnel, library staff, and others who implement information technology and support its use by students, teachers, and other employees; and
  3. Students and employees with disabilities, as well as their families and advocates, who use or should be able to use information technology.

Who are key AccessIT staff and collaborators?

AccessIT brings together partners with substantial expertise, resources and dissemination channels. The University of Washington's Center for Technology and Disability Studies (UWDCTDS) and Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology (DO-IT) lead the efforts of AccessIT. NIDRR-funded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers and the IT Technical Assistance and Training Center (ITTATC), DBTACs, project EASI (Equal Access to Software and Information), and Microsoft Corporation are among its many partners. Key staff include:

  • Kurt Johnson, Principal Investigator and Co-Director
  • Sheryl Burgstahler, Co-Director
  • Dagmar Amtmann, Associate Director
  • Pat Brown, Assistant Director
  • Sherrie Brown, Policy Specialist
  • Debbie Cook, Technical Assistance Coordinator
  • Terry Thompson, Technology Specialist
  • Gaby DeJongh, Training Coordinator
  • Lyla Crawford, Training and Outreach Coordinator
  • Mark Harniss, Continuing education Specialist
  • Alan Knue, Manager of Program Operations
  • Lee Olsen, Program Coordinator
  • Jeff Witzel, Backdoor Webmaster
  • Linda Tofle, Electronic Resources Editor

How can AccessIT be contacted?

AccessIT
Box 357920
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-7920
Email: accessit@u.washington. edu