Accessible Technology

University of Washington IT Accessibility Guidelines

The University of Washington’s IT Accessibility Guidelines, originally approved on May 1, 2015, are periodically updated. The current version was updated February 26, 2020 and approved by Aaron Powell, Vice President for UW Information Technology and CIO. Sheryl Burgstahler, Director of Accessible Technology Services, is the UW’s IT Accessibility Coordinator; questions regarding IT policy interpretation and implementation can be directed to her at sherylb@uw.edu.

1. Purpose

This document provides guidance to University units and individuals employed by the University of Washington (UW) – fulfilling the UW’s commitment to equal access to information technology (IT) and complying with the UW Policy—IT Accessibility. Following the guidelines helps to ensure that people with disabilities have access to the same services and content that are available to people without disabilities, including services and content made available through the use of information technology.  IT procured, developed, maintained, and used by the UW should provide substantially similar functionality, experience, and information access to individuals with disabilities as it provides to others.

The UW makes its offerings accessible to individuals with disabilities in accordance with UW Policy—IT Accessibility, UW Administrative Policy Statement 2.3, UW Executive Order 31, and Washington State Policy #188. The underlying foundation for the policies and the UW’s IT Accessibility Guidelines is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and the Amendments Act of 2008.

2. Definition

The UW has adopted the definition of accessible used by the U.S. Department of Education in resolutions with postsecondary institutions. These are regarding civil rights complaints about the inaccessibility of their IT.

“Accessible” means a person with a disability is “afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability in an equally effective and equally integrated manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use. The person with a disability must be able to obtain the information as fully, equally, and independently as a person without a disability” (source: Resolution Agreement: South Carolina Technical College System, OCR Compliance Review No. 11-11-6002).

3. Scope

These guidelines supports administrative, research, and academic applications, including the following examples:

  • Websites
  • Video and audio content
  • Electronic documents
  • Desktop, mobile, and cloud-based applications
  • Content and learning management systems
  • Email and calendars
  • Library resources
  • Computers and peripherals
  • Information kiosks, telephones, digital signs, and other electronic equipment
  • Classroom technologies

4. Standards

Technologies and standards evolve at a rapid pace. The UW looks to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level AA, developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), for guidance in meeting its IT accessibility commitments. WCAG 2.1 provides success criteria for measuring web accessibility, as well as provides useful metrics for products and services that are not specifically web-based. When an IT product cannot be brought into compliance, University units are responsible for providing an individual with a disability equivalent access.

5. Progress and Plan

The University of Washington has a lengthy history of proactively addressing IT accessibility issues. Its IT Accessibility Progress and Plan describes past efforts and future plans as it strives to ensure IT developed, procured, and used at the UW is accessible to individuals with disabilities.

6. Resources

The following resources can assist the UW community in understanding and meeting its accessibility goals. These resources can also be used as a reference for vendors and contractors providing IT products and services to the UW.

Resources and Support for IT Accessibility

Additional Campus Resources

Approval

Aaron Powell
Vice President for UW Information Technology and CIO
February 26, 2020