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New UMS “Information and Communications Technology Administrative Practice Letter” (APL)

The University of Maine System adopted on January 27, 2020 a “Information and Communications Technology Administrative Practice Letter” (APL). The APL defines terms, roles, responsibilities, and business procedures necessary to ensure realization of equality of opportunities afforded through Information and Communication Technologies as part of UMS programs, opportunities and activities.

For example, the APL lays out Information and Communications Technology accessibility-related responsibilities for web sites and other digital content, procurement of technology, related employee training, and responsibility for responding to ICT Accessibility incidents and complaints.

As authorized under the UMS BOT ICT Accessibility Policy, the technical standards used by the University for assessing the accessibility of ICT tools and materials are:

  1. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG v 2.1), level AA (includes level A)
  2. PDF/UA-1 (ISO 14289-1) for PDF documents.
  3. Web ARIA 1.1

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. 

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

Visit UMS:IT Website to learn more

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.

More on this topic:

Barriers to Learning