August 22, 2011

MEMORANDUM

TO: OSU Community

FROM: Angelo Gomez, Interim Executive Director of Equity and Inclusion
Gabriel Merrell, Program Manager, Virtual and Built Environments Access

RE: Policy on Information Technology Accessibility

This memo announces and outlines OSU’s new Policy on Information Technology (IT) Accessibility. The policy establishes minimum standards of accessibility for particular university websites and web-based content that will take effect February 22, 2012.

Background

Several developments necessitate this policy:

  • The US Departments of Justice and Education jointly issued a Dear Colleague letter on June 29, 2010 expressing concern about universities and colleges using electronic book readers that are not accessible to students who are blind or have low vision. They declared such usage to violate federal law unless students were provided accommodations that permitted them to receive all the educational benefits in an equally effective and integrated manner.
  • US Department of Justice officials recently declared that websites of state universities and other public entities are subject to the program access requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • A major state university is being investigated by the US Department of Education pursuant to a complaint about inaccessible university websites.
  • The National Federation for the Blind has filed legal complaints against several universities over the use of inaccessible information technology.
  • The US Department of Justice has announced its intention to establish regulations that will set minimum required standards for websites of public entities such as state universities.

These developments, combined with the rapidly increasing use of information technology as a medium for delivering university programs and services, underscore the urgent necessity for minimum accessibility standards for particular university websites. This policy is necessary in order to ensure that individuals with disabilities have equal opportunity to access programs and services provided through information technology, including websites.

About the Policy

As IT becomes a primary means by which information, programs, and services are made available, it is necessary to place accessibility considerations at the forefront of efforts to design, acquire, and use information technology. The accessibility of IT is integral to fulfilling the university’s obligation to be responsive to the needs of individuals with disabilities.

The new Policy on Information Technology Accessibility outlines minimum standards and expectations to ensure equal opportunity and access to all university programs, services, and activities. The Policy on IT Accessibility will be introduced in phases. With this memo, we are introducing Phase I, which pertains to the accessibility of websites and web-based content. Additional phases of the policy will address standards for hardware and software, including the procurement and selection of these IT products.

The policy states:

“OSU commits to ensuring equal access to all University programs, services, and activities provided through information technology (IT). Unless an exemption applies and according to the applicability and timeline specifications, all colleges, departments, offices, and entities of the University will:

To read the policy statement in its entirety, and to learn more about specific requirements and time frames, please visit the newly redesigned Accessibility at OSU website.

The policy, adopted August 22, 2011, will take effect on February 22, 2012.

Accessibility Basics for the Web

To support the campus community in meeting the obligations of the Policy on IT Accessibility, the Office of Equity and Inclusion is offering introductory sessions specifically focused on website accessibility. To register, please visit OSU’s Professional Development site.

Questions

Any questions related to the Policy on IT Accessibility can be directed to accessibility@oregonstate.edu.

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