How can I design a school computer lab to be accessible to all students?
As increasing numbers of people with disabilities pursue educational opportunities that require computer use, accessibility of computing facilities becomes even more critical. Making a computer lab accessible requires that attention be devoted to the physical accessibility of the lab facility, as well as to the accessibility of the available technology. Assistive technology (AT) should be available for students who need it. However, AT alone does not make a computer lab accessible. Computer hardware and software must be compatible with AT and must be accessible to all users, whether they interact with technology using sight, sound, or touch.
You can make computer labs can be made accessible by employing principles of universal design. Universal design means that rather than design your facility for the average user, you design it for people with a broad range of abilities. Keep in mind that individuals using your lab may have learning disabilities or visual, speech, hearing, or mobility impairments. Individuals from each of these groups will need access to the facility, equipment, software, electronic resources, and printed materials.
Learn more about how to design an accessible computer lab in DO-IT's publication and accompanying video Equal Access: Computer Labs. This publication includes a checklist with dozens of specific recommendations regarding planning, evaluation, policies, and procedures; facility and environment; lab staff; computers, software, and assistive technology; and information resources.