When: Friday, January 20, 2012
Time: 12:00pm until 1:00pm
Location: MU 213

Through a discussion about the role of disability within the lens of diversity; we’ll explore possible similarities between the civil rights movement and the disability rights movement, and the intersection of concepts such as ableism and able bodied privilege. We’ll also approach disability as culture and the various models of disability in society today. Along the way, we’ll also address how we all play an important role in effectively engaging campus, and society, to break the norms that have placed barriers in front of people with disabilities.

OSU MLK, Jr. Celebration 2012

August 22, 2011


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.


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.


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

PDFs are more and more becoming the standard document structure used to disseminate documents.  In the creation of PDFs, it is important to consider accessibility.

How to go about creating accessible PDFs will depend on where you are starting: with a finished PDF you want to make accessible, if you have access to a document you want to convert to PDF, or if you are scanning and converting to PDF. Each process is more involved that I’ll write about here, plenty of information is available online on creating documents accessibly in each of these instances.

While not as common today, many PDFs still exist that are just scanned images of text, not actual text.  These documents are inaccessible from the start.  If you scan documents to make PDFs, or want to work on the quality of your documents, you should educate yourself on the benefits of OCR (optical character recognition) software. In Disability Access Services, we use ABBYY Fine Reader, but many different versions of OCR software exist – some might even be bundled with your scanner.

Here are a few really good resources about accessible PDF creation:
WebAIM PDF Accessibility
Adobe Accessibility

I really like the “Creating Accessible PDF Files from Word” document on the following page, as many of us convert to PDF from Word:
Adobe Accessibility Best Practices

Some of the basics to consider are:

  • Does the document use proper tagging and structure in the PDF format
  • If color is used, does it have proper contrast
  • If color is used, make sure the important content isn’t reliant on color (i.e. “important information is in red”)
  • Do images have proper Alt Text (you can check this using the “Touch Up Object Tool” in Acrobat Pro 9 or 10)
  • Do links within the document make sense out of context – are they descriptive
  • Are fonts at least readable for most people upon opening the document – are they 12pt or greater
  • Does the document have proper layout and reading order (check using the “Touch Up Reading Order Tool” in Acrobat Pro 9 or 10)
  • If the document is long, is there built in navigation (like a table of contents), is the structure tagged using headings to assist in this navigation
  • If there are forms in the document, are they coded properly
  • Are tables created in the most linear fashion possible – are tables coded properly
  • Is the language of the document set (so the screen reader software knows what language to speak)

Note that this is a fairly through, but not complete list.  Human evaluation is always the most important tool you have. You’ll need to education yourself and evaluate the document to determine if it is accessible. While Acrobat Pro now has a built in accessibility checker, and it helps quite a lot, no software exists that can replace a person actually checking a document and all of the intricacies we build into them.

If you don’t have Acrobat Pro 9 (or X) you’ll need it at a minimum to do a lot of the fixes I’ve listed above once the document is in PDF.  You can, and should, do this work in your original document if you own it, as it’s always better to build in accessibility from the beginning.

While most of you don’t have access to the most common screen reader software on the market, Adobe actually has built in screen reader software into Adobe Reader and Acrobat Pro!  One of the best things you can do to make sure your PDF document is accessible is to listen to it.  Activate this feature by going to View > Read Out Loud > Activate Read Out Loud.  Then use the controls and listen away.

To learn more, watch a webinar on accessible communication through IT that I gave recently, with an emphasis on document creation.


Tuesday, January 25, 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Career Services, Kerr Admin Bldg-Room B008

Karen Hanson (DAS) and Anne Lapour (Career Services) are here to lead you through a workshop that will help you successfully navigate that upcoming job search. Targeted specifically for students with diverse abilities, this presentation will walk through effective job search strategies, how to research companies with known reputations for accessibility and accommodations, and basic networking skills. In addition, we’ll discuss ways to gain some hands-on experience and transferable skills to round out your resume and make you a competitive applicant. Pizza provided. Hope to see you there!

With the increase in the number of students using Mac computers on campus we’ve seen a growing need for Mac software to support e-text, specifically the format we use, Daisy.

There are currently three options I recommend for Mac computer users who receive e-text: Emerson-Reader (a free text to speech reader), VoiceOver (Apple software built into all Macs), and ReadHear (a $120 text to speech reader).

Emerson-Reader. This free reader is very simple and takes almost no time to learn how to use. If you use VoiceOver frequently, an FYI that VoiceOver does not work with Emerson-Reader. I recommend this software as the first option for most of you.

VoiceOver is Apple’s own screen reader software built into your Mac computer. Learn about VoiceOver. It takes some learning to use it most effectively, and is a great tool, but is probably more complicated than most of you want to spend the time learning about. There is also a very nice tutorial within VoiceOver, when you turn it on. You can use VoiceOver to access your e-text from DAS, but it takes more effort than the other two options because Microsoft Office software is not fully compatible with VoiceOver yet. You can use TextEdit, Apple’s built in word processing software, to access e-text with VoiceOver.

ReadHear is a very new text to speech product that is more advanced than the free Emerson-Reader. Similar to Emerson-Reader it takes almost no time to learn how to use, and it is compatible with VoiceOver. It is a nice product, and if you are a member of RFB&D (Recordings for the Blind & Dyslexic) you can get it for free! Otherwise, the $120 cost makes it more prohibitive than the other two options for students. You can download a free 30 day demo on their website.

Hopefully this info helps. We will be creating a new DAS Tutorial for Mac e-text and will post it on our website when it is finished. I am more than happy to help anyone who wants to learn to use any of these software options, feel free to get in touch now or whenever you would like.