Technology and Information Accessibility Defined

What is Technology and Information Accessibility?

Technology and information are considered to be accessible if they can be accessed in a variety of ways and does not rely on a single sense or ability of the user. Major accessibility issues fall into three broad areas for higher education: web-based learning, in-class technology, and document preparation.

Why is Technology and Information Accessibility Important?

The majority of the work completed at a university relies on the use of technology, therefore, accessible technology and information is important. Following accessibility standards improves content overall because it can serve all users whether or not they are disabled. The captioning of videos not only helps individuals with a hearing impairment, captioning also provides an alternate way for the content to be used by a hearing person.

Accessibility Laws

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 1990 requires covered entities to furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities unless doing so would result in a fundamental alteration of the program/service or cause an undue burden. Examples of auxiliary aids include audio recorded texts, Braille materials, large print, captioning, and any other method that make audio and visual media available.

In 1996, the United States Department of Justice issued a policy ruling stating that ADA Titles II and III require state and local governments along with the business sector to provide effective communication regarding programs, goods, or services when communicating through the Internet. Because of the extent to which government and businesses use web-based delivery of information, goods, and services, it is also necessary to make web content accessible.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. § 794 (d)) in 1998 by Congress, requires Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. An accessible information technology system is one that can be operated in a variety of ways and does not rely on a single sense or ability of the user.