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EDUCAUSE Policy Topic: Accessibility

Colleges and universities have long been responsible for ensuring that persons with disabilities have equitable access to educational opportunities as well as the campus workplace. Federal and state laws require it. As technology has become ever more central to the development and delivery of institutional programs, resources, and services, the importance of providing an accessible technology environment across a college or university has grown. To the extent that technology is critical to the core functions of the institution, the accessibility of that technology to persons with disabilities has become a key factor in determining whether facilities, programs, and services are accessible to them.

Thus, institutions face increasing scrutiny regarding the accessibility of the technologies they buy and use to support teaching and learning, academic and student services, and so forth, whether delivered online or on campus. As colleges and universities attempt to evaluate the academic applications of technologies such as tablets and e-readers, or to achieve greater efficiencies and service improvements by migrating to cloud services, they know that disability rights organizations and federal agencies are waiting to see—and act—if they will appropriately account for accessibility in the process.

EDUCAUSE Policy works with its members and others to understand trends and issues impacting IT accessibility, as well as to inform the public discourse surrounding them. This includes highlighting the balance colleges and universities must achieve to affordably maintain and advance their technological capabilities while ensuring those capabilities are, to the extent practical, equally available to all members of the institutional community.

The Role of Campus Leadership in Ensuring IT Accessibility, featured post by Diana Oblinger. View >

 

Nearly 11% of undergraduate and 8% of graduate students have disabilities.

Digest of Education Statistics, 2011, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Education