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Showing Revision 2, created 09/29/2012 by Terrill Thompson .
We are committed to the notion that everyone should have an opportunity to participate in higher education,
whether it be from the learning perspective, or the research perspective, or an opportunity to work here
at this institution. We benefit from that
because we get to enjoy the talents and the
skills of those people who come in, and also
their perspective, which in many cases will
be different from the perspective of others
So accessibility becomes a very important value at the university.
We're a leading university globally.
We want the best talent in the world
for our students, our staff, and our faculty.
And we want to be sure if that talent has
a disability that they know that we are a
We're competing with other prestigious and highly accomplished institutions.
We want to make sure that we can target the right candidates to join our community
regardless of their disability status.
We want to do everything we can to insure that they have the same access to smart faculty, to fellow students, and
to the resources at UC Davis.
In fact, we genuinely believe that excellence is achieved through diversity and that a commitment to equity and inclusion
really enriches each of our lives.
It would be inconceivable not to have a social conscience, at least, and be completely committed to
making our resources at Barry University accessible to all students.
We believe that the use of technology can be very powerful.
It connects people to each other, but it also enhances their learning capabilities;
it increases what they can do through their research and creative work;
it really makes it possible for them to have a more powerful impact in the world and that's basically what we're all about.
And we want that to be true for every member of our community
regardless of limitations of physical, spacial, time or other dimension.
As an IT professional, sometimes some of us concentrate in the technical side of the house only
and we forget that finally the technology is to serve the people.
What the university offers and makes available has to be offered to everybody.
We can’t afford to waste the talents or the brilliance or the minds of anybody
and making things accessible allows everybody to engage in the university.
Equal opportunity is a part of our value system, but it’s also required by law.
Compliance is extremely important. And compliance is the law. But that isn't the motivator for most of us at universities.
Our motivation has always been to provide
easily accessible tools, excellent experiences
for our students and really to give them the
sense that this is a place they want to be,
a place they want to learn, a place where
they can thrive.
Universal design is a very powerful concept because what it means is
we look at the issue of accessibility at the
outset rather than buying something or engaging
something, or developing something that we
have to retrofit. Which not only makes it
cheaper and more efficient, it likely makes
it much better in terms of both the quality
of the product and the accessibility to those – all the people that we want to be able to use it.
I think the other direction that colleges and universities could and should take
is to think about accommodation as really the beginning of the conversation about disability.
It was the appropriate measure that was taken in the Americans with Disabilities Act that was passed in 1990
and that's well over a generation ago.
I think now we really have to think less about how we're going to measure specifically this accommodation or that accommodation
and recognize that we can make accessibility open and available so that individual staff, faculty or students
do not have to go to get an accommodation.
It will be automatically available in the webpage that they visit, in the device that they use.
We envision a campus that has a concept of universal design in all aspects of information technology,
that a student is not impeded in any way, but in fact, that technology is utilized not only directly by
those who benefit because of certain challenges
they may have, but also is illustrative to
the broader student body and to the faculty
and to alums
about what an inclusive learning environment is.
We have some things we have to learn in order to move into accessibility space,
but the basic goals and the basic values are things we already know and love.
Then we bring in things like universal design: the notion that if we design things well right from the start,
they actually aren't more expensive.
This is something that we can fit into even our very, very tight budgets.
We make a great effort in our graduate and our undergraduate counsel
to make sure that faculty and deans are aware
that in program design, in offering a new major,
that they take into account that they might have to have specialized software available,
and they have to build that into their program
development. And then to certainly just be aware
of all the different ways that students can learn, to help faculty and deans understand
the concept of universal design.
The first step really needs to be an assessment of where we are, so we can then inform our planning process,
develop plans, implement a project, and then really
assess the results of it.
Key to our approach to making sure that our campus and our technology is
accessible to people with disabilities, is
to ensure we do this by design.
This is not an afterthought that we do after we have implemented a new classroom.
Instead, this is something that we do from the initial conception of new project or idea.
The same we would do this for privacy and security, we do this for accessibility.
It is less costly, in the long run, to be thinking through the issues of accessibility comprehensively.
Therefore, having a plan for accessibility insures that
from the beginning we think through our issues
with regard to the delivery of our services.
Doing so in a strategic way means that we
can hold down costs over the long haul and
actually deliver better services in the bargain.
It is very important that a university follows a policy and a process that is a can-do kind of process.
It assumes that we are going to undertake the investments that we need,
we're going to demonstrate the values that we need - that not only address the needs of students who may be challenged
with vision or hearing or other disabilities,
but also draw on the technology that is not
only exciting for those people who are developing
the technology, it's intellectually exciting,
it provides new jobs for that matter and it stimulates learning in so many parts of the
university. So that attitude of the university administration, as well as faculty and staff and students,
becomes very, very important because everyone gains from this. It's a win-win situation.
A policy really is an important way to go, because it will focus everyone’s attention.
It's also probably the way that you have to go now that there are legal pressures on higher education in this area.
The second thing I would say about policy is there are
really two types in general.
One is a policy that you have because you have a law,
for example, the Family Education Rights Privacy Act Policy,
so you want to be clear and sure that you're going to have compliance on your campus.
There's another kind of policy that I would call aspirational policy and maybe accessibility fits a little bit in both
but you most certainly can err on the aspirational side.
An aspirational policy is something you establish for your institution as a path moving towards something, moving forward.
It does not have to have one hundred percent compliance because it's really a direction that you're setting strategically for your institution.
I’d say another critical aspect around our strategy is a shared governance strategy.
Because education is a shared responsibility across faculty, staff, students, vendors,
all of us working together have to share in that responsibility.
Now, a shared governance process means if you are responsible in delivering the service, then you have an opportunity to share in governing how we’re going to
manage the implementation of these services.
The administrators of the university must reflect the values that demonstrate the importance of this to the learning environment
and it has to be built in then to every aspect
of what we do.
Right now we have a number of projects and initiatives underway at the UW
in which we're testing new technologies.
Accessibility is an important consideration in these evaluations.
Many of the vendors we work with have completed Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates or VPATs,
which offer a checklist of accessibility criteria and vendors' self-assessment as to how well they meet those criteria.
It's a good starting point, but we go beyond that
to ask a vendor specific questions
and to test their products with respect to accessibility.
We begin with our vendors saying (a) this is not only important, that this is required for working with the CSU.
Every student who comes into our institution, we
have to provide equally effective access to
those services and you are a partner in delivering
those services to us.
So we will tell you what we need and then we will help you inform your staff, educate your staff, provide them
some consultation and guidance in partnership
so you can deliver the successful service for us.
So we work with our vendors to try to put pressure on them to make things accessible.
We actually have a purchasing process where we work through and ask the issues about accessibility
for software and hardware that we buy as well.
Individual efforts really need to be able to scale well.
If we go about things in an ad hoc approach, one by one, we're not likely to get the same results
as if we work together as a community in higher education,
to work with vendors to improve accessibility
with regard to the products that are offered.
That's a much more pragmatic approach rather than institution by institution.
Making accessibility a priority in their development roadmap is going to be driven by the market demand.
And if an institution never says a word, the vendor isn’t going to do anything about it.
So if we begin to communicate our demands collectively,
then the vendor will recognize the market value
As we acquire IT resources, we have to embed accessibility in our contracts.
As we develop resources, we have to employ universal design in our thinking about how
to make these resources available and we have
to continue to monitor students to see if
we're really delivering to them the resources
in a form that they can actually use.
Accessibility requires effort on the part of everyone in the higher education community -
faculty, staff, technology vendors. If we all do our part, our institutions can provide everyone with
an equal opportunity to participate. And we all benefit from the perspectives of a diverse group.
Having that peace of mind that we are doing all we can to provide an accessible campus is -- gives us a lot of pride
and we feel very happy about what, what we do.
Why wouldn't we make our campus accessible to students with disabilities and
why wouldn't we do everything we could to
see the technology is accessible to our students?
The spirit of what has made higher education the jewel in the crown of American society
is part and parcel of the message of accessibility.
Every way in which we touch the lives of others, whether it's in the classroom, the laboratory,
through live performances, through events on campus,
we want everyone who comes here and creates those experiences to be as fully engaged
and as fully benefited by the activity as possible.
And that simply can't be done if people have artificial challenges or barriers to try to overcome.
I would say to those out there who are just getting started or maybe struggling
to figure out how to use technology to advance
accessibility on their campuses that
there's no such thing as a bad time to start.