Summary Report 2014-2016

Summary Report Introduction

The University of Nevada, Reno is committed to ensuring the accessibility of its information technology resources and services as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (504). "Accessible" means that individuals with disabilities are able to independently acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services within the same time frame as individuals without disabilities, with substantially equivalent ease of use. [1]

At the request of the Vice President for Student Services, the University convened an Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) Plan Committee to develop an EIT Plan. This summary report outlines the process and progress of that Committee during its first two years.

2014-2015 Committee Updates

The 2014-2015 Committee consisted of thirty-nine members including representation from the following constituent groups; President's Council, Faculty Senate, Staff Employees' Council, Provost, General Counsel, Student Services, School of Medicine, Planning, Budget & Analysis, Marketing & Communications, Administration & Finance, Extended Studies, Library & Information Technology, Teaching & Learning Technologies, Disability Resource Center, Graduate School, Equal Opportunity and Title IX Office, students, and alumni. Nine subcommittees formed and are charged to develop sub-plans and define tasks, timelines, budgets and an assessment strategy each for a specific section of the plan. Those subcommittees are; Appeals, Audit, Classrooms, Library, Policy & Procedures, Procurement, Student Survey, Training, and Web. The University established a half-time administrative faculty position, Coordinator of Assistive Technology, to work with the Committee and subcommittees and facilitate development of the EIT Plan.

To inform the Committee's work ahead, members reviewed and discussed articles about universal design [2] and documentation of recent civil rights litigation. [3] The Committee invites presenters to bi-monthly meetings to demonstrate assistive technologies. At the January 2015 meeting, UNR alum Sohei Okamoto demonstrated immerseRead, a speech synthesis application he developed. "With immerseRead, users can absorb both visual and auditory perceptions simultaneously when reading text, facilitating the immersion to the materials." In March 2015 Read&Write, a literacy support software, "That makes the web, documents and files more accessible," was demonstrated. UNR purchased Read&Write and deployed it campus-wide in all Information Technology computing labs, all Teaching and Learning Technologies classrooms and is readily available to all students, faculty and staff for campus and home use.

The Electronic and Information Technology Policy has been adopted and was first included in the University Administrative Manual in March 2015. An accessibility appeal procedure has been developed whereby a student, faculty, staff, or member of the public may file a grievance to the University's Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX regarding an EIT accessibility barrier and is published on the websites for the Equal Opportunity and Title IX Office, the Disability Resource Center and the University Accessibility and Technology website. A detailed EIT Procurement Policy and related procedure has been implemented effective August 2015 and includes a process for vetting software for accessibility before purchase.

Each subcommittee has defined a policy statement [4] and develops and implements procedures to support those statements. The work of the various subcommittees during this first year has resulted in the following examples of improvements to campus technology accessibility;

  • Effective spring 2015, the Disability Resource Center student satisfaction survey includes ten questions specifically related to accessible technology. The Committee used those results in 2016 to strategize software testing.
  • The Library audits its websites and assets. Major homepage sites are compliant, Voluntary Product Assessment Templates (VPATs) have been collected for eight of the most highly utilized online services and accessibility development roadmaps have been obtained from other vendors.
  • All Teaching and Learning Technologies smart classrooms are compliant or have plans to be brought into compliance as they are updated.
  • All Enrollment Services websites have been audited and remediation of accessibility deficiencies is in progress.
  • The following training opportunities are offered:
    • A Web Accessibility Course by Information Technology
    • Brown Bag Sessions by the Disability Resource Center focus on accessible document creation
    • Teaching and Learning Technologies and Marketing and Communications include accessibility components in many of their training sessions.
    • The Accessibility and Technology website contains University accessibility resources for students, faculty, staff, and the public.

2015-2016 Committee Updates

The 2015-2016 EIT Plan and OCR Compliance Committee grew to include academic faculty and additional students closing the academic year with forty-seven Committee members and three additional subcommittees; Instructional Materials, Software Review and Tools & Standards, bringing that total to twelve subcommittees. Committee education continued during the Accessibility Month of September to include three WCET [5] webinars; Promoting a Culture of Accessibility for Online Students, Accessibility for Edtech Across the Campus: Turning a Negative into a Positive, and Video Captioning: Features, Costs, Good Practices, and How Captioning Benefits All Students. Second year committee work focused on implementing additional accessibility improvements, vetting software purchases for accessibility, developing training materials, and increasing outreach to campus communities.

Beyond continuing the first year progress, significant initiatives during the 2015-2016 academic year resulted in ongoing advancement of accessibility of EIT;

  • A new and more accessible Learning Management System, Canvas, is in use effective for the summer 2016 semester.
  • Funding is in place for a 2016-2017 instructional materials captioning pilot.
  • UNR purchased a software module [6] to identify Adobe Acrobat files (PDF) hosted on the UNR website that may have accessibility issues. The Library and enrollment services are two known departments that use this tool to identify and improve documents on their sites.
  • The Information Technology department removed 1500 inactive and potentially inaccessible personal websites from the University WolfWeb system [7] and the remaining sites are audited along with all websites in the University's content management system.
  • The Library continues to request VPATs and development roadmaps from vendors. Library staff members remediate inaccessible Adobe Acrobat files (PDFs) on the Library websites and accessible commercially available material is sought out.
  • The Software Accessibility Review Committee vetted nineteen software packages for accessibility and assisted six vendors to bring their products into conformance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 level AA guidelines.
  • Enrollment Services identified website content managers for each of the sites and all sites adhere to the WCAG 2.0 level AA guidelines. Content managers receive weekly reports of new issues and are expected to remediate them timely.
  • Teaching and Learning Technologies removed video cassette recorders from all their classrooms and replaced them with DVD players which support closed captioned media.
  • The Accessibility and Technology website includes added training and links:
    • Academic and administrative faculty resources
    • Self-audit checklists and resources for website content editors
    • Online training modules for creating accessible content and course materials
    • Accessibility checklists, workshops, and an accessibly created syllabus for faculty use

Outreach and Engagement during the 2015-2016 academic year included presentations at the Associate Dean's meeting, Staff Network meeting, University Technology Council and the Software Management Advisory Council. Members of the EIT Committee participated the following events and associations that advance universal design and accessibility of technology in the higher education environment at the University, across Nevada and globally.

  • A Universal Design session at the Northern Nevada Diversity Summit (Exploring Diversity and Equity Through Access, Retention & Engagement) was co-presented by colleagues from University of Nevada, Reno and Truckee Meadows Community College. [8]
  • A University of Nevada, Reno Panel on Universal Design was presented at the TypeWell 2016 National Conference. [9]
  • Three members of the University of Nevada, Reno EIT and OCR Compliance Committee participate in the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Working Group on Accessibility to develop an NSHE EIT Policy recommendation to the Board of Regents and have implemented a shared resource repository to leverage each institution's accessibility assets.

The first two years of the UNR Electronic and Information Technology and OCR Compliance Committee have brought about significant improvements in the accessibility of technology, primarily in the areas of instructional technology and student access.

[1] "Accessible" is defined by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights in multiple Resolution Agreements.
[5] WCET (WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies) is a division of the
Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

Prepared August 26, 2016