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Get started with accessibility

The University of Washington is required by law to provide programs and services that are accessible to all qualified participants, including those with disabilities.  But what does that mean for you? What do you need to know?

How do I make my technology accessible?

This website provides an extensive body of how-to pages for making particular types of content accessible. To learn more about accessibility of particular technologies, consult the pages that are most relevant for the technologies you’re using or are especially concerned about.

Where do I get help?

The UW has an active accessible technology community, and its members are eager to help and support one another. See Events for face-to-face learning opportunities and ways to get connected with the community, or seek Help for more specific needs.

What is accessible technology?

Accessible technology is technology that has been designed in a way so that it can be accessed by all users. This includes websites, digital documents, software, hardware, video, audio, and other technologies. People who interact with technology are extremely diverse. They have a wide variety of characteristics, and we cannot assume that they’re all using a monitor for output or keyboard and mouse for input. Consider these users:

  • Most people who are blind use either audible output (products called screen readers that read web content using synthesized speech), or tactile output (a Braille device).
  • People with learning disabilities such as dyslexia may also use audible output. This is often referred to as Text-to-Speech (TTS).
  • People with low vision may use screen magnification software that allows them to zoom into a portion of the visual screen.
  • Many others with less-than-perfect eyesight may enlarge the font on websites using standard browser functions, such as Ctrl + in Windows or Command + in Mac OS X.
  • People with fine motor impairments may be unable to use a mouse, and instead rely exclusively on keyboard commands, or use assistive technologies such as speech recognition, head pointers, mouth sticks, or eye-gaze tracking systems.
  • People from the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community access audible content through text or sign language. Therefore, audio needs to be transcribed and videos need to be captioned.
  • People may be using mobile devices including phones, tablets, or other devices, which means they’re using a variety of screen sizes and a variety of gestures or other user interfaces for interacting with their devices and accessing content.

Accessible technology works for all of these users, and countless others not mentioned.