What is Web Accessibility?

Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the Web. More specifically, Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web. Web accessibility also benefits others, including older people with changing abilities due to aging. Web accessibility encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the Web, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities. Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)

Why websites must be accessible

Audio Conference on Access to Instruction

The Disability Resource Center and the UIC Digital Accessibility Committee invites you to attend an audio-conference from AHEAD, the Association on Higher Education and Disability

“A Clear Standard for Access to Instruction”

Thursday, August 29, 2013
2:00 – 3:30 PM CDT
Daley Library room 1-470

This audio conference will be important for all faculty, administrators, purchasing officers, and IT staff. Please RSVP to Kevin Price by email, pricek@uic.edu to reserve your seat at this audio-conference.

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Department of Justice: Campuses Must Ensure Digital Accessibility

Two recent rulings by the Department of Justice (DOJ) reinforce their continued emphasis that Universities must “ensure that” campus technology be accessible. In a recent settlement agreement with Louisiana Tech University, a DOJ summary sent the following message:

“…the University must implement a policy that requires the deployment of accessible technology and course content in the University setting. To that end, the University shall conduct a review of the accessibility of its technology and instructional materials and shall ensure that,from the effective date of and consistent with the Settlement Agreement, all technology, including websites, instructional materials and online courses, and other electronic and information technology for use by students or prospective students, is accessible.” (Paragraph 13(a)).

The Department of Education’s agreement with the South Carolina Technical College System last March stated:

“‘Accessible’ means a person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability in an equally effective and equally integrated manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use. The person with a disability must be able to obtain the information as fully, equally and independently as a person without a disability. Although this might not result in identical ease of use compared to that of persons without disabilities, it still must ensure equal opportunity to the educational benefits and opportunities afforded by the technology and equal treatment in the use of such technology.” (Resolution Agreement South Carolina Technical College System OCR Compliance Review No. 11-11-6002)

Want more information about these rulings and how they impact UIC? The Disability Resource Center and the UIC Digital Accessibility Committee is going to sponsor a audioconference put on by AHEAD, the Association on Higher Education and Disability, called:

“A Clear Standard for Access to Instruction”

presented on Thursday, August 29, 2013, 2:00 – 3:30 PM CT. This audio conference will be important for all faculty, administrators, purchasing officers, and IT staff. Please RSVP to Kevin Price by email, pricek@uic.edu to reserve your seat at this audioconference.

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Blog “Screen Readers at a Crossroads” Greg Kraus, NC State Univ

As new technologies emerge, what happens to old standards? That’s an issue that Greg Kraus of North Carolina State University attempts to address when he writes about “Screen Readers at a Crossroads.”

At Google’s recent developer conference, they demonstrated their solution to implementing Web accessibility within the Chrome browser. ChromeVox Screen Reader and ChromeVox API provide a different approach than standard screen readers. Kraus gives details on the benefits of the Google solution as well as potential problems when multiple standards and tools compete on browsers.

Read more from Kraus.

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Working to Improve Google Product Accessibility

For blind and low-vision users, Google products have proven challenging to use. However, new updates to Chrome, Google Apps and Android are improving the accessibility of those products, and Google has committed to continuing those efforts.

Google’s accessibility team presented their updates at the 28th annual CSUN International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference in San Diego, California and showed off their accessibility resources.

Accessibility Resources include:

Google also has a new initiative to work with the Assistive Technology in Higher Education Network (ATHEN) to prioritize accessibility improvements to Google Apps.

It is good news to hear that Google is taking accessibility of its products seriously. These ongoing improvements will only benefit people with disabilities needing to access educational resources.

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Webinar on Accessibility with WordPress

Great Lakes ADA Center is hosting a free webinar on the accessibility of WordPress, May 23, 1 – 2:30 p.m. with speaker Joseph Dolson, accessible web development consultant and contributor to the WordPress accessibility task force. Free registration for the webinar is available online.

Although WordPress has been developed with great attention to HTML semantics and best practices, there are still holes to fill if you want best practice web accessibility for your website. Learn about what you can do to improve WordPress on the front-end, in the admin, and what you need to know about themes and plug-ins to keep your site accessible.

This free webinar is a part of the ADA Audio Conference Series.  The ADA Audio Conference Series is a collaborative project of the ADA National Network. The ADA National Networks are grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education through the auspices of the National  Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).

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DO-IT Video: “IT Accessibility: What Campus Leaders Have to Say”

Higher-Ed IT leaders and technology staff contributed to a 15 minute video presented to the recent Educause technology conference to stress the importance of using technology to make college campuses more accessible.

The video, ”IT Accessibility: What Campus Leaders Have to Say” was produced jointly by the University of Washington’s AccessComputing project and DO-IT Center. A key message in the video was the importance of making technology accessible from the start of a project rather than retrofitting it later.

The University of Washington’s DO-IT Center promotes the success of individuals with disabilities in post secondary education and careers, using technology as an empowering tool. DO-IT stands for Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology.  They produce a variety of resources (including videos) for students with disabilities, K-12 educators, postsecondary faculty and administrators, librarians, employers, parents, and mentors.

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Justice Department Releases Section 508 IT/Web Accessibility Report

The Justice Department announced the release of its report “Section 508 Report to the President and Congress: Accessibility of Federal Electronic and Information Technology.”  The report, authorized under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. § 794d), provides findings based on a survey of federal agencies on the accessibility of their electronic and information technology and the procedures used to implement the requirements of Section 508.

Section 508 requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities, unless certain exceptions apply.  Sections 508 accessibility guidelines was the precursor to the Illinois Information Technology Accessibility (IITAA) guidelines. UIC is required by law to provide accessibility under the IITAA accessibility guidelines.  Many Federal accessibility guidelines and actions end up being accepted outside of the Federal government.  This 508 report was published to establish a baseline of compliance to the Section 508 guidelines.

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University of Montana Students File Complaint Over Inaccessible Online Courses

On September 17, 2012, U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) confirmed in an email that a complaint by University of Montana Students concerning inaccessible educational technologies is under investigation.

The Alliance for Disability and Students at the University of Montana (ADSUM) outlined these specific allegations:

  • Inaccessible class assignments and materials on the learning management system, Moodle.
  • Inaccessible live chat and discussion board functions in the learning management system, Moodle.
  • Inaccessible documents that are scanned images on webpages and websites.
  • Inaccessible videos, and videos in Flash format, that are not captioned.
  • Inaccessible library database materials.
  • Inaccessible course registration through a website, Cyber Bear.
  • Inaccessible classroom clickers.

“These barriers to educational technology should not be tolerated by students on campus,” writes ADSUM director Courtney Damron in part of the letter announcing the investigation to the University of Montana campus; she continues, “Inclusionary and exclusionary practices speak volumes for the reputation of our institution. Students with disabilities have a civil right to post-secondary education at federally funded universities.”

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has jurisdiction and follows up on allegations by students at public Universities regarding inaccessible online materials.

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Join us for 2012 Accessibility Summit, September 25, UIC Daley Library

Want inspiration and practical knowledge you need to make your Web presence truly universal?

Join us on September 25 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the Third Annual Online Accessibility Summit at the UIC Daley Library, Meeting Room 1470. Free for everyone, this event brings together some of the Web’s most notable experts in an all-new, one-day only online conference. Individually this event would cost $179 but join us at the UIC Daley Library and participate with your peers for free. Stop in for one or more sessions or stay all day if you like. You can bring your own food and beverages.

The event includes speakers from Deque, Adobe, and WebAIM, and is sponsored on campus by the UIC University Library, UIC Disability Resource Center and the UIC Web Accessibility Committee.

The Topics include:

Accessibility & Plain Language
ARIA Gone Wild
The Gamification of Accessibility
Hands-On Accessibility Testing
Accessibility Implementation Strategies
40 Years of Mobile Dev Experience

The complete agenda is available online .

Live Captioning is provided by WGBH.

Looking forward to seeing you at the Accessibility Summit September 25, 2012!

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Global Accessibility Awareness Day, May 9, 2012

Could you go mouseless for an hour? Use a screen reader? Try the mobile device/OS Accessibility features?  The first Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 9th, 2012, is where web developers across the globe try to raise awareness and know-how on making sites accessible.  It is a community-driven effort with the goal to focus one day to raise the profile of digital (web, software, mobile app/device, touch screen kiosk, etc.) accessibility.

Get involved in one of the many public events or other activities via the Global Accessibility Day website or facebook page.

Christopher Dobson at Harper College’s Center for Innovative Instruction will lead a Blackboard Collaborate session “Webinars and Resources for Promoting Accessible Technology” targeted at college and university instructional designers, web developers, faculty and other staff working to support the use of technology in education on campus. Christopher will share information on webinars and other online resources available for those just getting started in their understanding of how to make eLearning and other online campus content and ICTs accessible to all students.

The session will run from 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM US Central Time on May 9. Space is limited to thirty attendees and is first come first serve. Register to attend by e-mailing your name and your college or university affiliation to gaadvirtual at gmail.com (gaadvirtual@gmail.com). Please have Webinars and Resources for Promoting Accessible Technology in the subject line. They will be in touch with information on how to connect to the Blackboard Collaborate session prior to the event.

I hope you can be involved in this year’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day!

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