Accessibility of Information Technology

Responsible Officer
Michael Goh
Vice President, Office for Equity and Diversity
Bernard Gulachek
Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Office of Information Technology
Owner
Sharon Ramallo
Senior Director - OIT Application Development
Donna Johnson
Director - Disability Resource Center
Primary Contact
Scott Marshall
Last Revised
Effective Date

Policy Statement

The University of Minnesota is committed to providing equitable access to information technology, digital materials, services and the environments in which information technology is used. All colleges, departments, central units and faculty are responsible for ensuring access to their Web content, Web applications, digital materials, environments and services to the greatest extent possible in accordance with the following practices:

  • implementation and adherence to World-Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 level AA and ARIA 1;
  • purchase, acquisition, development and use of hardware and software products that support universal design and access;
  • design, implementation and maintenance of accessible technology-related work environments that accommodate all users; and
  • application of accessibility tools and techniques in the creation of digital materials and communications. For example, text-based alternatives which may include:
    • Alternative text descriptions for images
    • Transcripts for audio content
    • Captioning and audio description for multimedia

In cases where Web content, Web applications, digital materials or services are not accessible, an individual with a disability may request that the Web content, Web application, digital material or service be made available in an accessible alternative format or that an equally effective accommodation be provided by the unit responsible for its provision and maintenance. The responsible unit must, upon receipt of the request, make accessible versions available to all users within a reasonable time period.

Individual Web pages published by students, employees or non-university organizations hosted by the University but that do not conduct University-related business are outside the scope of this policy.

Research and Non-availability Exceptions

Exceptions to this policy are as follows:

  • Hardware and software tools specific to a research or development process in which no member of the research or development team requires accessibility accommodations. The lead investigator must document that, upon inquiry, no member of the research or development team identifies as requiring an accommodation.
  • Hardware or software for which no equivalent accessible option is available (non-availability). All colleges, departments, central units, and project leads are responsible for documenting the following efforts in verifying compliance with this exception:
    • identification of alternative applications or equipment with similar required functionality that do not provide additional accessibility;
    • identification of alternative applications or equipment that are accessible but do not meet functionality requirements; and
    • purchase of a currently non-compliant product where efforts by the vender are underway to remediate the defects by a defined date.

Reason for Policy

To implement Board of Regents Policy: Disability Services.

Incorporating principles of universal design and current accessibility standards in the design and development, purchase and acquisition, implementation and use of information technology and related resources helps the University to ensure that its resources are accessible to the widest possible audience. Adherence to this policy will help to ensure that all individuals have access to Web content, Web applications, digital materials, environments and services associated with administration, courses of instruction, departmental programs, and University-sponsored activities.

This policy benefits the university by improving access and reducing barriers to faculty, staff and student success as well as reducing costs of required retroactive accommodations and reducing legal and reputational risk associated with non-compliance. 

Contacts

SubjectContactPhoneEmail
Primary Contact Scott Marshall 612-626-4954 [email protected]
Policy Questions Disability Resource Center 612-626-4954 [email protected]
Technical Questions Office of Information Technology 612-301-4357 (1-HELP) [email protected]
Purchasing Questions Purchasing Services 612-624-2828 [email protected]
Web Page Design Tonu Mikk 612-625-3307 [email protected]
Web, digital materials and environment accessibility Computer Accommodations Program 612-626-0365 [email protected]
Inaccessible Web Pages Contact person listed on website

Campus Contacts

CampusContactPhoneEmail
Twin Cities Disability Resource Center Voice/TTY: 612-626-1333
Duluth Disability Resources Voice: 218-726-6130 TTY: 218-726-6575
Morris Disability Resource Center Voice/TTY: 320-589-6178
Crookston Disability Resource Center Voice: 218-281-8587 TTY: 218-281-8565
Rochester Disability Resource Center

Definitions

Accessible
A person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability in an equally effective and equally integrated manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use. The person with a disability must be able to obtain the information as fully, equally and independently as a person without a disability. Although this might not result in identical ease of use compared to that of persons without disabilities, it still must ensure equal opportunity to the educational benefits and opportunities afforded by the technology and equal treatment in the use of such technology.
Adaptive Technology
Any item, piece of equipment, or product system — acquired commercially, modified, or customized — that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capability of an individual with a disability. The following are examples of adaptive technology.
  • Screen readers
  • Screen magnification applications
  • Speech recognition systems
  • Alternative keyboards and pointing devices
  • Alternative hand and foot switches
Functional Accessibility
Individuals with disabilities are able to effectively acquire information and services, interact with digital resources and applications, and complete tasks in an equally integrated manner with substantially equivalent ease. Compliance with standards alone does not guarantee functional accessibility. Therefore, testing with adaptive technology is essential.
Technology-related Environments
Any environment in which technology is made available for general use by students, faculty, staff, guests or visitors.

Responsibilities

Disability Resource Center
Promote awareness of policy. Respond to requests for assistance from units and individuals. Monitor progress of implementation.
Office of Information Technology
Promote awareness of policy. Provide consulting services to units making changes to support compliance with this policy.
Purchasing Services
Establish procedures to assure that University specifications for technology purchases include specifications for accessibility when relevant.
University Units
Indicate on purchasing requisitions whether / when? technology accessibility issues are relevant.
Web Developers
Follow established University Standards when creating and revising University web pages.
Web Development
Provide consulting services to units making changes to comply with this policy.

Related Information

  • Board of Regents Policy: Disability Services
  • Administrative Policy: Public Access to University Information
  • Accessible U
  • Inclusive By Design 
  • World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
  • World Wide Web Consortium Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 Accessibility Requirements
  • Entities to Title II or III of the ADA must provide effective communication to individuals with disabilities, and covered entities that use the Internet to provide information regarding their programs, goods or services must be prepared to offer those communications through accessible means.
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States shall, solely by reason of handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
  • Establishes principle of programmatic access to federally-funded programs. Does not directly address the internet, Web, or information technology, but lays foundation for accessibility to the services ("programs") of federally-funded programs.

History

Amended:
August 2018 - Comprehensive Review. Clarified the inclusion of media; Provided specificity around the process for accommodation requests; Provided greater specificity around individual student, faculty and other Web resources exempted from the policy.
Amended:
December 2013 - Comprehensive Review. Modified ownership to include the Office of Information Technology. Provided greater specificity around conditions which qualify for exceptions to the accessibility standards.
Amended:
July 2008 - Clarified and simplified policy. Special situations section deleted and Exception section added. Updated Disability Services contact information. Added FAQ.
Amended:
May 2002 - Clarified Purchasing Services responsibility in Responsibilities section.
Amended:
March 2002 - Policy is now effective, not proposed. Policy statement and reason, definitions, special situations and procedure have all been revised. Deadlines for implementation of this policy have been extended three months. Reference to "granting exemptions" and "without placing an undue burden" was removed from the Policy Reason. This material is addressed in Special Situations.
Effective:
March 2002

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