University committed to following all accepted accessibility standards for online content and functionality
The University is undertaking far-reaching measures to ensure online accessibility
Last fall the University received a complaint from the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) within the U.S. Department of Education citing areas of our website which contained barriers to access for people with disabilities. OCR's mission, in short, is to provide equal access to education and, specific to the Web, to ensure our nation's schools adhere to the standards outlined in Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The University understands and fully supports this mission.
The University promptly resolved the issues identified by OCR. In addition, the University reviewed its policies regarding persons with disabilities having an opportunity equal to that of their nondisabled peers to participate in the University's programs, benefits and services. The University's online content and functionality must always follow accepted accessibility standards, summarized in the Benchmarks for Measuring Accessibility. These standards are meant to guarantee that people with disabilities are able to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same benefits and services as their nondisabled peers. While we do much of this now, the website requires ongoing vigilance because of its extensive and dynamic nature. As part of our ongoing compliance with and commitment to accessibility, we have undertaken, or will undertake, the following measures:
- The University submitted earlier this month to OCR for approval a set of proposed policies and procedures outlined in a "Plan for New Content" to ensure all new, newly added, existing, and modified online content, functionality and software will be accessible to people with disabilities.
- The University hired SSB Bart Group (AKA SSB), a firm specializing in helping organizations provide digital systems that are accessible to persons with disabilities. SSB will audit all existing content and functionality on our website, including, but not limited to, the home page; all school, college and unit sites; the LMS (Learning Management System); and intranet pages and sites. The audit is to be completed by September 20.
- Once the audit is completed, the University will submit to OCR for approval a proposed Corrective Action Plan with a detailed schedule for the corrective actions to be taken by the University to be completed within 24 months of their approval of the plan.
- Consistent with the Corrective Action Plan, the University currently offers-and will soon require-website accessibility training for academic faculty and anyone responsible for developing, loading, maintaining, or auditing web content and functionality. Until such time as OCR closes its monitoring of this agreement, the University will submit to OCR on a quarterly basis documentation of this training and other measures taken.
For academic faculty, this means that from this point forward all content used in teaching or for instructional purposes must be accessible to people with disabilities. The Information and Communication Technology Committee will help you understand the implications of these policies and the steps necessary to comply. This comprehensive committee is comprised of forty-six academic and administrative faculty, staff and students representing the membership of the University. The chart below provides the names and contact information for the subcommittee chairs and the types of issues with which each person can help. Thank you for your attention to this important issue and for helping to make our University ever more accessible to those with disabilities.