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.
- On Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2023 (May 18), hosted a half-day series of “Fix Your Accessibility” workshops, as well as a Digital Accessibility Awards event to honor UW departmental units and individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to digital accessibility over the last year.
- Launched a new central accessibility website at uw.edu/accessibility to serve as a digital front door to accessibility at the UW. To make room for this new site, the UW Accessible Technology website moved to a new URL at uw.edu/accesstech.
- Hosted a half-day IT Accessibility Liaisons meeting in which representatives from Environmental Health & Safety and Continuum College shared their their experiences, promising practices, and challenges as they each have taken a variety of steps to normalize accessibility as part of their regular business processes.
- Published the 2022 IT Accessibility Task Force Report (PDF).
- Published an updated version of the IT Accessibility Rider (in PDF), which is inserted into all agreements and contracts for the procurement of relevant IT.
- Launched the Training Opportunities web page, an inventory of accessibility-related professional development opportunities for UW employees compiled by the Training Subcommittee of the IT Accessibility Task Force.
- Hosted a half-day IT Accessibility Liaisons meeting in which participants learned about each of the available training opportunities, and identified gaps and strategies for reaching more employees.
- UW-IT Accessible Technology Services (ATS) created a new Instruction Accessibility Specialist position to provide professional development and support to faculty in learning the basics of digital accessibility and improving the accessibility of their courses and course materials.
- Purchased an institutional membership in the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) as a pilot project to explore their professional development opportunities and consider whether and how to integrate them into our own training pathway.
- Hosted a half-day IT Accessibility Liaisons meeting that featured a deep dive into an old topic: Describing visual content in images and video. The meeting focused extensively on whether, when, and how to reference a person’s race, gender, or disability when describing them in alt text or audio description. This discussion included a diverse panel of screen reader users who shared their perspectives, and was co-facilitated by Virginia Frausto; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Specialist with Professional & Organizational Development.
- Activated the Canvas accessibility checker (built into the Canvas rich text editor), so users now have two means of checking accessibility within their Canvas courses: The built-in checker and Ally.
- Hosted a full day of trainings and workshops on May 19, Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD 2022).
- Hosted a half-day IT Accessibility Liaisons meeting, focused on two primary topics: techniques for authoring accessible PowerPoint slides and accessibility of online training tools such as Articulate Storyline and Rise.
- Published the 2021 IT Accessibility Task Force Report (PDF).
- 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.
- 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.
- Published the 2020 IT Accessibility Task Force Report (PDF).
- Hosted a half-day IT Accessibility Liaisons meeting, focused on video accessibility.
- Launched a monthly Accessible Technology Webinar Series.
- Hosted the Washington State IT Accessibility Capacity Building Institute, attended by IT accessibility leaders from postsecondary education institutions throughout the state.
- Hosted a half-day IT Accessibility Liaisons meeting, focused on the Recent Changes in IT Accessibility Procurement Procedures at UW.
- Hosted the UW Celebration of Accessibility.
- Hosted an IT Accessibility discussion as part of the UW TechConnect conference.
- 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.
- Hosted a half-day UW IT Accessibility Liaisons meeting, focused on teaching and working online.
- Led a full day of trainings and lectures open to UW community for Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) 2020.
- Launched the UW IT Accessibility Challenge.
- Hosted a half-day IT Accessibility Liaisons meeting, focused on accessibility tools.
- Published the 2019 UW Accessibility Task Force Report (PDF).
- The UW’s IT Accessibility Guidelines were updated to adopt the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.1 (previously the Guidelines had adopted WCAG 2.0).
- Started the new year on January 2 with a 9:00am presentation on “UW Web Accessibility in 2020” for the UW Web Council.
- Launched the Accessible Technology Blog with an inaugural post titled after the Web Council presentation, UW Web Accessibility in 2020.
- Hosted a half-day IT Accessibility Liaisons meeting, focused on strategies for implementing IT accessibility within units or departments.
- Led a presentation on accessibility to the UW Assessment Working Group.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hosted a half day IT Accessibility Liaisons meeting, focused on accessibility of online forms.
- Hosted a one day Washington State 2019 Capacity Building Institute on Accessible Online Learning.
- Hosted activities for Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) 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.
- Published the 2018 IT Accessibility Task Force Report (PDF).
- Hosted the third Capacity Building Institute for Policy #188 Coordinators at postsecondary institutions in Washington State.
- 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.
- ATS secured permanent funding to caption high-impact, high use videos and remediate PDF files. Details about these services are available on the Videos and Documents pages of this site, respectively.
- ATS hosted a one day Washington State 2018 Capacity Building Institute on Accessible Online Learning.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hosted a half day IT Accessibility Liaisons meeting, focused on accessibility in procurement.
- Hosted the second Capacity Building Institute for Policy #188 Coordinators at postsecondary institutions in Washington State.
- Hosted a half day IT Accessibility Liaisons meeting, focused on efforts at UW branch campuses.
- UW’s Policy #188 Coordinator attended Policy #188 Accessibility Coordinator Summit, Olympia, WA.
- Published the 2016-17 IT Accessibility Task Force Annual Report (PDF).
- 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.
- Hosted the 2017 IT Accessibility Capacity Building Institute for UW stakeholders.
- 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.
- UW-IT Accessibility Services filled a new accessibility specialist position, focusing primarily on leading university-wide efforts to improve the accessibility of digital documents.
- Hosted the Washington State IT Accessibility Capacity-Building Institute on Policy #188 for Washington state colleges and universities to share ideas and identify collaborative opportunities in addressing requirements of Washington State Policy #188, which requires that IT procured, developed, and used by state agencies be accessible to people with disabilities.
- The Director of UW-IT Accessible Technology Services was named coordinator of UW efforts to comply with the new Washington State Policy #188.
- ATS 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.
- Hosted the 2016 University of Washington IT Accessibility Capacity Building Institute, which included key stakeholders from all three UW campuses.
- Launched a #nomouse social media campaign with accompanying website (nomouse.org) to increase awareness about accessible web design.
- On May 1, published the University of Washington IT Accessibility Guidelines and accompanying IT Accessibility Checklist.
- 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.
- 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.
- The IT Accessibility Task Force submitted its 2013 annual report (PDF) to project sponsors.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
designed to increase the participation of people with disabilities in computing fields.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
The following activities are part of ongoing accessibility efforts, and span multiple years, starting in 1990.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.