Empathy and collaboration: Accessibility in IT

IT accessibility has been an important legal consideration for quite some time, but what that means, how it looks, and what end users should experience when interacting with technology are much more challenging issues to address.

Often, people will talk about accessibility as a binary—as if something is accessible or not accessible—but accessibility doesn’t work that way. Accessibility is a gradient, not an absolute. Accessibility issues in the physical world can be difficult to evaluate, requiring careful measurements and testing. IT accessibility can be even more challenging to evaluate because it is not immediately visible, though processes and tools—such as WCAG 2.0, the VPAT, and numerous checklists and accessibility checkers—make assessment easier.

Ultimately, though, technological tools can only help so much. Software deemed accessible by vendors or basic checkers may actually present extensive issues and challenges to users. Even if these software tools are accessible, they can often be used to produce or share inaccessible materials. Fixing the problems tends to be both time-consuming and expensive. Being proactive in approaching accessibility can save both time and money, in addition to creating a more welcoming environment for individuals with disabilities.

[ Read the full article at EDUCAUSE Review. ]

 For more information on using technologies in your classes, contact the University Center for Teaching and Learning’s Teaching Support unit.