Moving ahead on ADA technology issues

August 14, 2014

In May, Chancellor DiStefano informed you about an inquiry from the U.S. Department of Justice requesting information about CU-Boulder’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This inquiry related to concerns about the accessibility of elements of CU-Boulder’s digital environment, including screen reader software, messaging and collaboration tools, the student portal, the learning management system, digital textbooks and digital signage for students with visual impairments.

In the Chancellor’s last message on this topic, he outlined steps forward, including the hiring of a project lead to build upon the work done thus far as we make rapid progress to improve accessibility compliance. As the campus administrators leading this effort, we want to strongly emphasize that in addition to fixing technical problems, we will also strengthen the awareness of all members of our campus community about how to access new technologies and create a culture in which everyone benefits by continual improvement of accessibility. Technology is constantly changing and we need to quickly adapt to these changes.

Under the leadership of a project executive team, we have made major advancements this summer by creating a steering team and four working groups, with broad representation from across the campus and the CU System. These teams have created and are carrying out a project charter that outlines the next steps.

The highlights of the project charter include:

  • By October, completing an initial assessment regarding how we will make our digital signage, Google Apps, Desire2Learn and other technologies compatible for students with visual impairments.
  • By December, hiring an IT Accessibilities Coordinator with responsibility to coordinate and provide additional IT accessibility instructional support and training to faculty and staff.
  • By May 2015, creating and adopting an IT accessibility policy for CU-Boulder.
  • By July 2015, providing education and training for those in teaching roles to ensure accessibility of digital course materials and textbooks used by constituents with disabilities.

Furthermore, we have hired an outside professional consulting firm that is conducting an audit of our campus information technology to provide recommendations on improving accessibility compliance.

As the higher education institution in Colorado enrolling the largest number of students with visual impairments, we are also fully committed to complying with the ADA requirements and providing appropriate resources to our students, faculty, staff and visitors with disabilities, whether they come to our physical campus, or to our presence in cyberspace.

Sincerely,

Vice Chancellor, Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement Robert E. Boswell

Associate Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Larry Levine

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