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Information Technology in Education Accessibility Checklist

The following checklist can assist you in making your educational environment more accessible to students and employees with disabilities. This checklist was developed to inform and assist educational entities regarding information technology (IT) accessibility, and it is not intended to replace federal and state guidelines and standards that more formally define IT accessibility.

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Each item in the checklist is a link. Follow any of these links to learn more about that item. (Note: Each link opens in a new browser window.) For further information on any item, or if you have any questions whatsoever about IT accessibility, contact the ADA & IT Accessibility Center in your region by voice/TTY (1-800-949-4232) or by email.

This checklist is also available in a printable version (323 KB) and accompanying Companion Guide (412 KB). Both documents are in PDF, and require Adobe Acrobat Reader.

For Additional Support

The national network of federally-funded ADA and IT Centers can provide additional information regarding IT accessibility. To locate the center in your region, please visit the ADA and IT Centers home page.

Is your physical environment accessible?

The first step in assuring that students with disabilities can access IT resources is assuring that these resources are located in a physically accessible facility. Very specific physical accessibility standards are defined by the federal Access Board in the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). This section of the checklist includes a few items that are especially critical for assuring access to IT-equipped labs and classrooms.

Physical Access

A physically accessible environment is one that wheelchair users can get to and navigate within. It is also one in which signage is accessible to people with visual impairments, and one that allows occupants to adjust lighting and noise levels as needed. Click on any of the following checklist items for more information about that item.

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Computer labs and technology-equipped classrooms are physically accessible to wheelchair users.      
Computer labs and technology-equipped classrooms are physically accessible to users with visual impairments.      
There are quiet work and/or meeting areas where noise and other distractions are minimized, or facility rules are in place (e.g., no cell phone use) to minimize noise.      

Is your information technology environment accessible?

Information technology includes computer hardware and software, websites, multimedia, telecommunications products, and standalone products such as printers and information kiosks. Accessibility standards for each of these product categories are defined by the federal Access Board in the Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards. This section of the checklist includes a few of the issues that must be considered in order to assure that IT resources are accessible to all users.

Computer Hardware and Software

In order for computers to be accessible, users must be able to perceive the output and operate the controls. Click on any of the following checklist items for more information about that item.

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When we purchase computer hardware, we take steps to assure it is accessible.      
When we purchase computer software, we take steps to assure it is accessible.      
Operating systems' built-in accessibility features are available by default.      
Users can customize their desktop settings in our public computing environment.      

Websites

Techniques are well established for developing web content that is accessible to all users. However, these techniques must be practiced by web authors and developers. Typically for educational entities this requires an ongoing effort to monitor web accessibility and to educate authors and developers regarding web accessibility.

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Our official (centrally supported) websites are accessible (i.e., compliant with established web accessibility guidelines or standards      
We have a system in place for monitoring and improving the accessibility of our web content.      

Multimedia

People who are deaf or hard of hearing are unable to hear the audio portion of a multimedia presentation, so the content must be captioned in order to be accessible. People who are blind are unable to see content that is presented solely visually, so this content must be verbally described using a procedure known as audio description. Click on any of the following checklist items for more information about that item.

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When we purchase multimedia products, we take steps to ensure they include captions and audio descriptions.      
We have a system in place for captioning any multimedia products that we create internally.      
We have a system in place for adding audio description to any multimedia products that we create internally.      
Our televisions are capable of displaying closed captions.      
Our video projectors are capable of transmitting closed captions.      
Our instructors and staff are trained on how to turn on captions, or clear instructions accompany the multimedia viewing equipment.      

Telecommunications Products

Click on any of the following checklist items for more information about that item.

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If one or more public telephones are available, at least one is mounted at an accessible height.      
TTYs are available for people who are deaf.      
Faculty and staff are trained in the use of TTY and the national relay service.      

Self-Contained, Closed Products

This category of products includes printers, scanners, information kiosks, and other products that are essentially standalone devices, though they may operate in conjunction with other devices in an IT system. Typically these devices have controls that users must operate, and they produce some form of information output that users must be able to perceive. A growing number of products in this category now include features that specifically address the needs of users with disabilities. However, many inaccessible products are still available as well. Click on any of the following checklist items for more information about that item.

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People using wheelchairs can reach the controls on our printers, scanners, copiers, and other similar devices.      
Our information kiosks are compliant with accessibility standards.      
Whenever we purchase standalone IT products, our purchasing policies or procedures require that we consider the accessibility of available products.      

Information Resources

Using an IT product often requires reading or referring to the documentation on that product. Documentation that typically is provided in print should also be available in an alternate format that allows print-disabled users to access it.

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In our publications, we include a statement about our commitment to access and procedures for requesting disability-related accommodations.      
All printed publications are available (immediately or in a timely manner) in alternate formats such as Braille, large print, and electronic text.      
Our publicly available printed materials are within easy reach from a variety of heights and without furniture blocking access.      

Policies and Procedures

By adopting policies and procedures regarding IT accessibility, educational entities can work more easily toward their accessibility goals since they'll have clear authority and guidance as to what is expected. Policies and procedures are issued at many levels. Most states have laws or policies that require websites to be accessible, and several have laws that require accessibility to be included as a factor in making purchasing decisions. These laws and policies vary as to whether and how they apply to educational entities. Some K-12 districts, higher education systems, and individual educational entities have adopted their own policies. Click on any of the following checklist items for more information about that item.

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We have a state law or policy that requires that our websites be accessible.      
We have a state law or policy that requires that we consider accessibility when procuring information technology.      
We have a K-12 district or higher education system policy that requires that our websites be accessible.      
We have a K-12 district or higher education system policy that requires that we consider accessibility when procuring information technology.      
We have an institutional policy that prohibits discrimination against students with disabilities.      
We have an institutional policy that requires that our websites be accessible.      
We have an institutional policy that requires that we consider accessibility when procuring information technology.      

Support and Training

In order for an IT environment to be accessible as it continues to evolve, those who build and support the environment must be participants in assuring accessibility. This is only possible if instructors and staff are provided with adequate training on accessibility issues. Click on any of the following checklist items for more information about that item.

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Training is available to web designers on how to create accessible web content      
Accessibility issues are incorporated into mainstream technology trainings for instructors and staff.      

Do you have the accommodations your students need to access your information technology environment?

Some individuals with disabilities require assistive technology in order to access information technology. Systems must be in place for assuring that individual needs can be met and that support staff know how to respond to an individual's request for accommodations. Click on any of the following checklist items for more information about that item.

Assistive Technology and Individual Accommodations

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A variety of hardware- and software-based assistive technologies are readily available for students with disabilities.      
We have a procedure to assure a quick response to requests for disability-related accommodations.      
We have a designated staff member and/or committee who assures that services are accessible to students with disabilities and responds to requests for accommodations.      
Computer support and help desk staff are trained in the maintenance and use of assistive technology      
Instructors and staff receive training on how to respond to requests for disability-related accommodations.