An upcoming, extremely interesting looking series on the Disability Rights Movement. Lives Worth Living will premier on PBS/OPB on Thursday, October 27 at 10pm.
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:
- Use University web page designs that are consistent with the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG) Level AA
- Disseminate electronic documents and multimedia on web pages that are consistent with this Policy”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Calling all students and other interested groups! We want your feedback!
Disability Access Services is collaborating with Facilities Services to purchase furniture for many of our classrooms on-campus. The purpose of this purchase is to make our classrooms more accessible to students with disabilities. Additionally, in the spirit of universal design, we hope that this furniture will provide additional seating options for students who need them because of a temporary injury, condition, pregnancy, etc. We will be placing signs on the furniture, which will indicate that the seating is preferred for persons with disabilities (much like the language you see in public transportation).
Back in 2009, DAS solicited student feedback about lumbar support chairs. Given the feedback from 2009, we decided to explore the possibility of using a similar chair. We have been working with multiple vendors and have narrowed it down to the chairs and table you will see in the pictures below. Please use the “Leave a Reply” box below to post your feedback or contact us directly at Disability.Services@oregonstate.edu.
Come sit in our sample chair! DAS is located in A200 Kerr Administration Building.
We will be placing an order soon, so please provide your feedback by Friday, May 20th.
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.
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.
Unfortunately the newest version of the Firefox web browser, version 4, does not support the DD Reader plug-in that you may have been using to access your E-Text. If you haven’t downloaded Firefox 4, you may want to wait until the plug-in is made compatible.
If you’ve already upgraded your Firefox, please download this portable version of Firefox 3.6:
1. Download the file from the link provided
2. Extract all the files to a folder in a desired location (Desktop, MyDocuments, etc.)
3. Open Firefox.exe and you can access DD Reader through the Tools menu, it is already installed and ready to go!
If you have any questions or need technical assistance please contact our office at 541-737-4098.
Unfortunately SQ3R is not the name of a Star Wars robot. It is a study technique developed in the 1940’s which is still utilized today. SQ3R helps students read strategically and more effectively learn the information.
Interested in improving your efficiency when reading your textbooks? Keep reading….
Here’s how it works…
Survey: Skim the textbook/reading. Pay close attention to the headings, sub-headings, and vocabulary words that are emphasized.
Question: Formulate questions about the chapter or reading based on the headings, sub-headings, and vocabulary. Ask yourself:
- “What is this chapter about?”
- “How does this information tie into information from lectures?”
- “What are the most important points/concepts from the chapter?”
Be sure to write your questions down, so you can answer them after reading the text more thoroughly.
Read: Actively read the chapter/book/article by using a highlighter or taking notes. See if you get more answers to your questions that were formulated in step two.
wRite: Write the answers to your questions you formulated in step 2. If you have a study guide or homework associated with the reading it may be a good time to complete those.
Recall: This is probably the most important step in SQ3R. Challenge yourself by creating a study sheet or notecards and recalling the key concepts, answers to study questions, meaning of vocabulary words, etc. without looking at the answers. If you can’t recall the information out loud or in writing, chances are you didn’t learn the information and you will not be able to recall it during a test. Be sure to tune-up on any questions you missed or had difficulty with.
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!
New Student Programs & Family Outreach is now hiring 2011 START Leaders or U-Engage Peer leader positions. Both positions allow you to work closely with new students and assist them with their transition to OSU. You can check out both positions below.
START Leaders work throughout the summer assisting with OSU’s orientation, advising, and registration program: START. START Leaders also the opportunity to participate in CONNECT Week programs. START Leaders are required to take a Spring Quarter training course. This position is a paid position, with pay beginning during the summer.
U-Engage Peer Leaders assist in the First-Year Experience course U-ENGAGE. The U-Engage Leader position is not paid, but you are given course credit, you will also be required to take a Spring Quarter training course. This position offers you internship credit.
For more information go to oregonstate.edu/newstudents or attend one of the information sessions below. Each session last about 30 minutes.
January 13th at 3:00pm in B008 Kerr Admin
January 18th at 12:00pm in B008 Kerr Admin
January 19th at 4:00pm in B008 Kerr Admin
Applications are due on Tuesday, January 25, 2011.
You’re done with Finals! Congratulations. I’m willing to bet that there are some things that went really well for you, and perhaps some things that didn’t.
I invite you to do a little self-reflection…
- How did the term go for you?
- Did you meet your goals for academic success?
- Did you meet your goals in other areas (i.e. health, wellness, etc.)?
- What worked well for you?
- What didn’t work so well for you?
- What are some ways that you can learn from your mistakes? What are you looking to improve upon?
If organization is something you want to work on for next term, consider trying a system that was developed at Landmark College specifically for students with learning disabilities and ADD/ADHD.
Here’s how it works…
Prepare one notebook for each class. The reason why we don’t suggest using only one large three-ring binders for all of your classes is damage control. If you lose the binder for all your classes you’ll be in more trouble than if you only lose one binder for one class.
Set up your dividers with some standard categories:
- Class notes
- Labs/Special Projects
- Reading notes
- Graded Work (homework, essays, exams, lab reports, etc.)
If the above categories don’t make sense for the structure of your class, feel free to change them, but try and keep a consistent system that will be easy for you remember and stay organized.
- Label each binder with the class name, professor, date, and time, as well as contact information for you that is visible. This can help if you leave your binder somewhere.
- Make sure that you print out your syllabus and include that in each class binder.
- Create a system and stick to it! If you are constantly changing the way you organize your class materials, you’ll probably end up forgetting something, and you could be using the time you spend on organizing the way you organize on studying for your next exam.
For more tips on staying organized consider scheduling an appointment with an Academic Coach through DAS (541-737-4098) or the Academic Success Center (541-737-2272).
What you’ll need…