What are the steps to take in making a school computer lab accessible?

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Develop policies and procedures that ensure access to lab facilities, computers, and electronic resources for people with disabilities, and demand that accessibility be considered in the procurement process.

Although a lab cannot be expected to have specialized equipment on hand for every type of disability, provide equipment that you anticipate will be used and/or is available at relatively low cost:

  • Printed resources in a location that can be reached by a wheelchair user
  • An adjustable table for each type of workstation in your lab
  • Wrist rests and forearm rests
  • Trackball, joystick, or other mouse alternatives
  • Signs with high contrast and large print
  • Large-print keytop labels, screen enlargement software, and a large monitor
  • Key documents available in formats accessible to those who have low vision or who are blind
  • In key lab documents, a statement about your commitment to access and procedures for requesting disability-related accommodations
  • Lab resources on the World Wide Web that employ principles of universal design and adhere to selected accessibility standards or guidelines adopted by the lab (e.g., W3C guidelines, Section 508 standards)

Once a lab is established or has greater requirements, consider adding the following:

  • Screen reading software and speech synthesizer
  • Scanner and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software
  • Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)
  • Braille printer and Braille translation software
  • Word prediction software
  • Alternative keyboards
  • Voice input software

Develop a procedure to ensure a quick response to requests for adaptive technology that you do not currently have available or other disability-related accommodations.

Train staff on available accessible products in the lab, on appropriate communication, and on procedures to address requests for accommodation.

For more information on making computer labs accessible to visitors with disabilities, consult Equal Access: Universal Design of Computer Labs or view the video by the same title.

Last update or review: January 25, 2013