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IT accessibility milestones

The University of Washington has a long history of working to address accessibility issues related to technology, starting as early as 1984, six years before passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Below are milestones from 1984 to present.

Despite the progress we’ve made, there is still much work to be done. Our current efforts build on our historic efforts, and are described on our IT Accessibility Plan page.

2021

November 2021

  • Hosted a half-day IT Accessibility Liaisons Meeting, focused on challenges and solutions related to our return to campus after working and learning remotely during the pandemic.

May 2021

  • Launched the Zero Errors Campaign, a university-wide effort to use accessibility checkers to reduce – or eliminate – accessibility errors from UW websites, online courses, and other digital resources.
  • Hosted a half-day IT Accessibility Liaisons Meeting, focused on brainstorming strategies for educating greater numbers of staff and faculty on IT accessibility issues.

March 2021

February 2021

  • Hosted a half-day IT Accessibility Liaisons Meeting, focused on video accessibility.

January 2021

2020

December 2020

October 2020

September 2020

  • Hosted an IT Accessibility discussion as part of the UW TechConnect conference.

August 2020

  • An ADA & Accessibility Steering Committee was appointed by President Cauce to provide ongoing leadership and strategic oversight with regard to the University’s efforts to ensure equal opportunity and full participation for all people with disabilities. More information about this group can be found in the Steering Committee Charge Letter and the Steering Committee Charter
  • UW Procurement Services, in collaboration with UW-IT Accessible Technology Services and the Chief Information Services Office, published updates to their policies and procedures, including updates related to accessibility of IT.

May 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

November 2019

  • Hosted a half-day IT Accessibility Liaisons Meeting, focused on strategies for implementing IT accessibility within units or departments.

October 2019

  • Led a presentation on accessibility to the UW Assessment Working Group.

September 2019

  • Launched the UW Bothell Accessibility website which contains links to UWB’s digital accessibility policy, physical accessibility campus information, and the self-paced Accessibility 101 course.

June 2019

  • UW-IT Accessible Technology Services represented the United States at ED-ICT International Network events held in Great Britain on postsecondary education and information and communication technology for students with disabilities.

May 2019

February 2019

  • Hosted a half day IT Accessibility Liaisons meeting, focused on the launch of Ally within all UW Canvas courses.
  • The IT Accessibility Task Force presented an Accessible IT Capacity Building Award to University Libraries for their efforts to make IT information resources accessible to all faculty, staff, and students at the University of Washington, including those with disabilities.

January 2019

2018

December 2018

October 2018

  • Hosted a half day IT Accessibility Liaisons meeting, featuring a discussion on accessibility of online resources for research and instruction, plus a presentation on accessibility of libraries.
  • UW-IT Accessible Technology Services represented the United States at Ed-ICT International Network events held in Germany on postsecondary education and information and communication technology for students with disabilities.

June 2018

May 2018

  • Hosted activities for Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) 2018.
  • Host a full-day 2018 UW IT Accessibility Capacity Building Institute for key stakeholders at the UW.
  • Hosted a half day IT Accessibility Liaisons meeting, focused on accessibility of videos.

March 2018

  • UW-IT Accessible Technology Services represented the United States at an Ed-ICT International Network event held in Israel on postsecondary education and information and communication technology for students with disabilities.

February 2018

  • Hosted a half day IT Accessibility Liaisons meeting, focused on accessibility in procurement.

January 2018

2017

October 2017

  • Hosted a half day IT Accessibility Liaisons meeting, focused on efforts at UW branch campuses.

August 2017

  • UW’s Policy #188 Coordinator attended Policy #188 Accessibility Coordinator Summit, Olympia, WA.

June 2017

May 2017

  • Hosted a half day IT Accessibility Liaisons meeting, featuring a discussion on updates to Washington State Policy #188, plus a train-the-trainer session on document accessibility.

April 2017

  • Hosted the 2017 IT Accessibility Capacity Building Institute for UW stakeholders.

February 2017

  • Hosted the first half-day meeting of the newly formed IT Accessibility Liaisons network. Going forward these meetings will occur three times per year, and will focus on timely topics and will feature trainings, presentations, and discussion.

2016

December 2016

  • UW-IT Accessibility Services filled a new accessibility specialist position, focusing primarily on leading university-wide efforts to improve the accessibility of digital documents.

November 2016

September 2016

  • The Director of UW-IT Accessible Technology Services was named coordinator of UW efforts to comply with the new Washington State Policy #188.

July 2016

  • UW-IT Accessible Technology Services and UW Procurement Services collaborated to create the Procuring Accessible IT web page. The page includes specific steps for addressing accessibility in the procurement process and includes recommended language for technology-related RFPs and contracts.
  • IT Accessibility Task Force submitted its 2016 Annual Report (PDF) to project sponsors.

May 2016

2015

  • On May 1, published the University of Washington IT Accessibility Guidelines and accompanying IT Accessibility Checklist.
  • UW-IT Accessible Technology Services (ATS) and Disability Resources for Students (DRS) tested, piloted, and then co-funded a license for SensusAccess, an online service that converts documents from inaccessible formats (e.g., scanned image PDF) to a more accessible one. The service is now offered as the UW Document Conversion Service and is available to all UW students, faculty, and staff. It is actively promoted by DRS and is widely used by students with disabilities for independently addressing their urgent document conversion needs.
  • Hosted the 2015 IT Accessibility in Higher Education Capacity Building Institute for Washington State colleges and universities to identify challenges that need to be addressed, promising practices, and recommendations for future efforts.
  • IT Accessibility Task Force submitted 2015 annual report (PDF) to project sponsors.

2014

  • UW-IT Accessibility Services filled a new accessibility specialist position, focusing primarily on working collaboratively with UW technology developers and IT companies that provide products and services used by the UW.
  • Wording was developed regarding knowledge and skills in accessible IT to be listed as a required or desired qualification in open job description listings for UW technology staff. Supervisors within UW-IT were encouraged to use it. Details are available on Managing for Accessibility.
  • The IT Accessibility Task Force submitted its 2014 annual report (PDF) to project sponsors.

2013

2012

  • The IT Accessibility Task Force was established, chartered jointly by Kelli Trosvig (Vice President for UW Information Technology and CIO) and Randy Hodgins (Vice President for External Affairs).

2011

  • A committee led by the Director of Web Communications (University Marketing And Communications) conducted a search for an enterprise web accessibility checker, and ultimately licensed Siteimprove.

2008

  • Hosted the first University of Washington IT Accessibility Capacity Building Institute (CBI). The goal of the CBI was to engage web managers and developers, IT administrators and service providers, procurement officers, disability services providers, students with disabilities, and IT vendors in a discussion that would ultimately lead to improved capacity within the three campuses of our university to carry out our educational mission in a way that is accessible to everyone.
  • Launched the UW Technology Accessibility website.

2006

  • Hosted a nationwide Capacity-Building Institute (CBI) on Web Accessibility in Seattle, supported by funding from the National Science Foundation.
  • DO-IT, in partnership with the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, received funding from the National Science Foundation for AccessComputing, a project

2002

  • The AccessibleWeb@U user group was established by Computing & Communications. Members meet monthly and engage on an email-based discussion list. All activities are focused on improving the accessibility of UW web pages.

2001

  • DO-IT and UW Rehabilitation Medicine received funding to co-direct he National Center on Accessible Information Technology in Education (AccessIT), a project to promote accessible IT nationwide in educational institutions at all academic levels.

1993

  • The first Introduction to Adaptive Technology course was taught through Computing & Communications.
  • DO-IT began creating videos on a wide range of disability-focused topics including assistive technology and accessible IT. From the beginning, all DO-IT videos having included captioning and audio description, and have been offered to users in a wide variety of formats to ensure compatibility with user needs and preferences.

1992

  • DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) was founded with funding from the National Science Foundation and continues to receive funding from multiple sources. DO-IT is a collaboration between UW-IT, the College of Education, and the College of Engineering. Although primarily outreach-focused, DO-IT projects have benefited the UW in many ways. In particular, DO-IT has dealt with issues related to assistive technology and accessible IT since it began.

1990

  • Combining consulting, lab and showroom functions, the Adaptive Technology Lab emerged as a unit of Desktop Computing Services housed within its general-access Micro Lab in the Husky Union Building. Several years later it was renamed the Access Technology Lab and is now called the Access Technology Center. A Manager of the ATL position was established in 1992.

1984

  • The Microcomputer Support Group (MSG) began operations originally under the Academic Computer Center, which was renamed Academic Computing Services, and which eventually merged with administrative computing to become Computing & Communications (C&C). The MSG supported the IT needs of faculty, students, and staff and included consulting on adaptive technology as part of its mission statement. In later years this group evolved into Desktop Computing Services. These groups gradually collected an assortment of assistive technology for testing, training and outreach to other campus labs.

Ongoing

The following activities are part of ongoing accessibility efforts, and span multiple years, starting in 1990.

Professional Development

  • Hosted the UW Web Accessibility/Usability Monthly Meetup.
  • Coordinated three half-day workshops per year for the IT Accessibility Liaisons network.
  • Offered customized trainings on IT accessibility to academic and administrative units upon request.

Partnerships

  • Actively engaged and supported members of the IT Accessibility Liaisons network.
  • Collaborated with the Office of Compliance, Disability Resources for Students (DRS), and Disability Services Office (DSO) in strategizing, planning, and providing services that ensure people with disabilities are able to fully participate in opportunities offered at the UW.
  • Collaborated with the Procurement Services Office and Office of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) to improve processes for addressing accessibility when procuring IT, and to raise awareness among people making procurement decisions.
  • Partnered with UW service owners and managers and the IT vendors with whom the UW has an active or pending business relationship, in order to help vendors provide products and services that meet the UW’s accessibility standards.
  • Engaged with other postsecondary IT accessibility leaders throughout Washington state to share resources and promising practices, and to work together on projects and activities of mutual interest.

Tools

  • Provided Siteimprove for web accessibility checking, and offer training and support to users to ensure it’s effectively utilized.
  • Provided Ally for accessibility of course content within Canvas, and offer training and support to users to ensure it’s effectively utilized.
  • Provided the UW Document Conversion Service, powered by SensusAccess, in partnership with DRS. This service provides a means for any member of the UW community to upload digital documents and quickly convert them to a variety of alternative formats.
  • Developed and maintain YouTube Caption Auditor (YTCA) and promote its availability as a tool for UW-affiliated YouTube channel owners to track and prioritize their video captioning efforts.
  • Lead the development efforts of Able Player, a fully accessible media player.

Resources

  • Maintained a showroom of assistive technology and provided consulting on its use and on accessible IT in the Access Technology Center.
  • Worked closely with University Marketing and Communications to ensure accessibility of standard UW-branded web themes, web components, and document templates, and actively work to promote use of these resources.
  • Created and maintained this website.