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Accessibility: Creating a Culture of Outreach: Administrators

This guide collects accessibility information for different campus stakeholders to enhance and develop accessibility outreach and culture on campus.


Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, colleges and universities are obligated to provide students with disabilities equal and integrated access to higher education. Schools cannot deny students with disabilities equally effective opportunity to participate in the programs, benefits, and services they offer. This means that classrooms, cafeterias, libraries, residence halls, computer labs, and all other campus spaces, including online courses, must be accessible.

Accessibility is a way to help all students across campus feel more comfortable with learning and encourage success.  From students with disabilities to international students to students who prefer different modes of access, our institution can provide the means to empower everyone.  

It is important that administration understands the policies, requirements and guidelines to ensure accessibility across campus.  Administration can also encourage a culture of accessibility by offering accessibility training at new faculty orientation, freshman orientation, and through online trainings offered from accredited accessibility sources.

Policy Development

Information for Creating Policies

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  • Does your campus have an accessible technology policy in place?
  • Is your accessible technology policy distributed to all instructional and administrative employees, instructional and administrative contractors, and instructional and administrative volunteers who are responsible for the procurement or provision of technology?
  • Is it posted publicly on your school’s website and intranet?
  • Does your policy incorporate or refer to procedures for providing students with disabilities with timely access to accessible course materials in electronic and hard copy formats?
  • Does your policy designate an Accessibility Coordinator with campus-wide oversight? Does the Accessibility Coordinator report to the President or a member of the President’s executive team?
  • Does your policy require the Accessibility Coordinator to be knowledgeable about the accessibility and usability of web content and technology (including technology commonly used in the classroom and laboratories), testing and evaluation of the accessibility of web and other technologies, and the accessibility standards listed above in Requirements and Standards? Does your policy also require the Accessibility Coordinator to be familiar with accessible document development and remediation, and the appropriate provision of non-electronic or non-digital formats, such as hard copy Braille, tactile graphics, and sign language interpreters?
  • Does your policy permit reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures, such as procuring technologies outside of general policies and making reasonable security exceptions for assistive technologies?
  • Are staff and faculty responsible for knowing and adhering to these policies?

*From the National Federation of the Blind

  • Does your school have a grievance procedure for disability discrimination complaints? Is the procedure posted in an accessible format and in an easy-to-find location on your school’s website?
  • Does your school’s grievance procedure identify who is responsible for conducting grievance investigations and does it include a timeline within which investigations and determinations must be completed?
  • Does it include a fair and timely appeal process?
  • If the grievance procedure requires students to complete a complaint form, has the form been tested for accessibility when used with screen access software?

    Exemplar procurement language from Ohio State University and other schools is available at the National Federation of the Blind Higher Education Accessibility Online Resource Center.

    • Does your campus have centralized procurement language that advises vendors of your institution’s requirement to procure EIT that complies with the applicable accessibility standards listed above in Requirements and Standards?
    • Do your procurement procedures require vendors to warrant in writing that any technology provided is accessible?
    • Do your procurement procedures require vendors to provide results of accessibility testing and written documentation verifying accessibility, to promptly respond to and resolve accessibility complaints, and to indemnify and hold the institution harmless in the event of claims arising from inaccessibility?
    • Do your procurement procedures require vendors to provide log-in credentials to permit independent testing of EIT (such as learning management systems and instructional support applications) through automated, expert, and user-testing? Does your independent testing of EIT permit in-house staff or third party consultants to verify the claims of the VPAT and any available accessibility evaluations to determine the product’s conformance with WCAG 2.0 AA and its usability by students with disabilities?

    While Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act require colleges and universities to provide students with disabilities equal and integrated access to their programs, benefits, and services, it is the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA, and Section 508 of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Final Standards and Guidelines that provide technical guidance for web-based information. WCAG 2.0 AA has been accepted throughout the web industry and is used by the US Department of Justice within settlement agreements as providing for full and equal access in accordance with federal law. Other accessibility standards include:

    • UAAG 1.0 for web browsers, media players, and assistive technologies;
    • ATAG 2.0 for software used to create web content;
    • MathML 3.0 specifications for digital mathematical and scientific notation;
    • WAI-ARIA 1.0 for web content;
    • WCAG21CT for non-web software and content;
    • ICT Final Standards and Guidelines. In addition to websites, the ICT Section 508 Standards apply to electronic and information technology procured by the federal government, including computer hardware and software, multimedia such as video, phone systems, and copiers. The ICT Section 255 Guidelines address access to telecommunications products and services, and apply to manufacturers of telecommunication equipment.
    • DAISY for digital publications and documents;
    • EPUB3 for digital publications and documents;
    • EPUB Accessibility 1.0 for digital publications and documents;
    • BANA Guidelines and Standards for Tactile Graphics (2010); and
    • Guidelines for the Production of Braille Materials through the use of Braille Production Software (2007).

Legal Action

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Legal Action

When self-advocacy and dispute resolution on campus fail to provide accommodations and equal access, blind students may be faced with no other option but to file a complaint with the United States Departments of Education or Justice, or to file a complaint in federal court. This is not an easy path for students, but it is an important one.

Key legal actions have helped to shape the definition of equal access on campus. The following complaints, agreements, and consent decrees, some with involvement of the United States Department of Education, document in very specific terms what equal access means for blind students and how it should be implemented on campus.

Working with Students

The following links are resources from a variety of institutions to refer to when creating or updating policies regarding accessibility.

Campus Contact Information

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