Access to Technology: An Online Tutorial

How individuals with disabilities can use computer and networking technology

"Electronic and information technology" (referred to as simply "technology" in this publication) includes a broad range of products used to acquire, store, manipulate, and transmit information. These technologies include computers, software, websites, telephones, science lab equipment, MP3s, CDs, videos, photocopiers, fax machines, and calculators.

Many technology products are designed in such a way that they are inaccessible to people with some types of disabilities. For example, a person with a visual impairment may not be able to interpret telephone use instructions if they are presented only in a visual format; a person who is deaf cannot access content of a software program that is only presented aurally. Too often even those individuals with disabilities who have assistive technology, a computer, and Internet connection, still cannot make full use of technology because of the inaccessible features of hardware or software. In contrast, when universal design principles are employed as technology is created or updated, the resulting products are fully accessible to a broad audience, including assistive technology users.

This tutorial, created by DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology), describes how people with disabilities use computers, tells how technology can be made accessible, and lists resources for further study. To complete the tutorial, simply read the documents and freely view the video presentations online; you can also purchase the videos in DVD format from DO-IT. You will find it easier to link to the websites if you use the online version of this publication at

How do individuals with disabilities access technology?

Read the publication and view the video Working Together: People with Disabilities and Computer Technology at

View the video Access to Technology in the Workplace: In Our Own Words at

Read the publication and view the video Working Together: Computer Technology and People with Mobility Impairments at

Read the publication and view the video Working Together: Computers and People with Sensory Impairments at

Read the publication and view the video Working Together: Computers and People with Learning Disabilities at

What are specific types of technology and how can they be made accessible to people with disabilities?

Accessible Web Pages and other Internet Tools

Read the publication and view the video World Wide Access: Accessible Web Design at

Read Section 508 Guide: Web-Based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications at

Read the WebAIM Section 508 Checklist at

Read the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines at

Read Accessibility of Online Chat Programs at

Accessible Telecommunications Products

Read Use of Telecommunications Products by People with Disabilities at

Read About the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines at

Read Disabled Persons' Telecommunications Access—Section 255 at

Read Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) at

Read Guide to Section 508 Standards: Telecommunications Products at

Accessible Video and Multimedia Products

Read Creating Video and Multimedia Products that are Accessible to People with Sensory Impairments at

Read Guide to Section 508 Standards: Video and Multimedia Products at

Read Emergency Video Programming to Persons with Hearing and Visual Disabilities at

Read Closed Captioning at

Accessible Software

Read Designing Software that is Accessible to Individuals with Disabilities at

Read Guide to Section 508 Standards: Software Applications and Operating Systems at

Review Software Accessibility Checklist at

Read Software Accessibility at

Accessible Desktop and Portable Computers

Read Guide to Section 508 Standards: Desktop and Portable Computers at

Accessible Self-Contained, Closed Products

Read Guide to Section 508 Standards: Self Contained, Closed Products at,-closed-products-1194-25.

What are examples of where accessible technology should be used?

Read the publication and view the video Real Connections: Making Distance Learning Accessible to Everyone at

Read the publication and view the video Equal Access: Universal Design of Computer Labs at

Read Equal Access: Universal Design of Libraries at

What are examples of policies for procuring, using, and developing accessible technology?

Read Policy Governing World Wide Web Accessibility at UW - Madison at

Read The Ohio State University Web Accessibility Standards at

Read  at

Read Central Michigan University Web Policy at

Read Implementation Plan for Web Accessibility at

Read Accessible Web Design Policy Statements and Standards at

Read Oregon State University Information Technology Accessibility at

Read Library Services for People with Disabilities Policy at

Where can I find training and support regarding accessible technology, legal issues, and resources?

Good places to start include the following:

Technology and Universal Design at

Equal Access to Software and Information at

AccessIT: The National Center on Accessible Information Technology in Education at

IT Access for Persons with Disabilities at

Additional Resources

For further information regarding accessible technology, consult To order videos in DVD format from DO-IT, consult To view video presentations online, consult

The specific DO-IT videos Computer Access: In Our Own Words and Access to Technology in the Workplace: In Our Own Words reinforce the basic content of this publication by sharing access challenges and solutions of individuals with disabilities. In the first presentation, you will hear the perspective of high school and college students with disabilities. In the second presentation, you will hear from employees.

About DO-IT

DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) serves to increase the successful participation of individuals with disabilities in challenging academic programs such as those in science, engineering, mathematics, and technology. Primary funding for DO-IT is provided by the National Science Foundation, the State of Washington, and the U.S. Department of Education. DO-IT is a collaboration of UW Information Technology and the Colleges of Engineering and Education at the University of Washington.

Grants and gifts fund DO-IT publications, videos, and programs to support the academic and career success of people with disabilities. Contribute today by sending a check to DO-IT, Box 354842, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-4842.

Your gift is tax deductible as specified in IRS regulations. Pursuant to RCW 19.09, the University of Washington is registered as a charitable organization with the Secretary of State, state of Washington. For more information call the Office of the Secretary of State, 1-800-322-4483.

For further information, to be placed on the DO-IT mailing list, request materials in an alternate format, or to make comments or suggestions about DO-IT publications or web pages contact:

University of Washington
Box 354842
Seattle, WA 98195-4842

206-685-DOIT (3648) (voice/TTY)
888-972-DOIT (3648) (voice/TTY)
206-221-4171 (fax)
509-328-9331 (voice/TTY) Spokane

Founder and Director: Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D.

DO-IT Funding and Partners


This publication is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant #9800324. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Copyright © 2012, 2010, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2003, 2002, University of Washington. Permission is granted to copy and distribute these materials for educational, noncommercial purposes provided the source is acknowledged.