students and instructor in a videoconferencing room

Why Accessibility?

"‘Accessible’ means 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.”  (US-DOJ Resolution Agreement. 11-11-6002)

Ensuring the accessibility of Electronic Information Technologies (EIT) is about equal "opportunity", that is, removing barriers to opportunities for persons with disabilities.  Several laws spell out our responsibilities in the area of EIT, including the "The Americans with Disabilities Act" and the "Rehabilitation Act".  The same laws that ensure access to buildings for persons with disabilities also apply to EIT resources and services.  In addition, the University of Maine System, in its Diversity for the 21st Century strategy, has committed to enhancing diversity and access to all persons regardless of differences and recognizes this not only as a legal and moral imperative but also as a critical component of our own institutional, community and state progress.

In recent years, the Federal Departments of Education and Justice, and private entities, have used the courts to vigorously enforce accessibility law as it applies to technology in higher education.  They are particularly focused on emerging technology, online education and electronic materials.

University of Maine System Policy

All employees of the University of Maine System, including faculty, staff, and administration, are responsible for complying with Administrative Practice Letter IV-A "Accessibility of University Programs, Services, and Facilities". This policy emphasizes planning for accommodations and accessibility, rather than retrofitting or waiting until a request has been made. Course sites should comply with Web Accessibility Guidelines, including:

  • providing text equivalents for non-text content, including alternative text, captions, and summaries
  • organizing content of documents logically so they are readable without associated style
  • ensuring information conveyed with color is also available without color
  • identifying row and column headers in data tables
  • creating electronic forms that can be completed online with access to field elements and functionality for screen readers
  • allowing users to skip repetitive navigation links

Use this site to help you develop your courses with these guidelines in mind.

Visit UMS:IT Website to learn more

More on this topic:

Barriers to Learning