Getting Started with Accessible Technology
The Michigan Tech community is collectively responsible for promoting accessibility through the technologies we choose, use, and create. This is required by law.
What is Accessibility?
Accessibility is the degree to which a product, device, program, service, resource, or environment is available to any given user, including those with a disability.
For example, if a building on campus has a wheelchair ramp leading to its main entrance, that entrance is accessible to wheelchair users. If a lecture includes sign language interpreters, that lecture is accessible to attendees who are hearing impaired and who understand sign language.
What is Accessible Technology?
Accessible technology is designed with accessibility in mind; it aims to be accessible for all users. Accessible technology includes electronic documents, websites, software, hardware, video, audio, and other technologies. Our technology must be compatible with assistive technology, such as screen reading and screen enlargement software.
Users who access technology are extremely diverse. They have a wide variety of characteristics and we should not assume they are all using a traditional monitor, keyboard, or mouse.
Consider these users:
- People who are non-sighted use either audible output (i.e., text-to-speech) products called screen readers that read web content using synthesized speech, or tactile output–a refreshable Braille device
- Individuals with low vision may use screen magnification software to zoom into a portion of the screen or enlarge the font on websites using standard browser functions
- People with learning disabilities such as dyslexia may also use audible output
- Individuals with motor impairments may rely exclusively on keyboard commands, or use assistive technologies, such as speech recognition, head pointers, mouth sticks, or eye tracking systems
- People with hearing impairments depend on video captioning or audio transcriptions
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) summarizes web accessibility in their Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG) into the following four key concepts:
- Web content must be perceivable
- Web content must be operable
- Web content must be understandable
- Web content must be robust
Although written specifically for web content, these principles may apply to other technologies.
How do I Make Technology Accessible?
We are committed to providing a growing set of training materials for making particular types of content accessible. We are also working to set up required online training about creating accessible content.
To learn more about accessibility of particular technologies, including tutorials for addressing potential issues:
Where Can I Get Help?
Michigan Tech has designated an accessible technology coordinator and has an active accessible technology working group committed to improving our accessible technology standing. Please fill out our request help form or contact Jeff Toorongian for assistance with making your ICT accessible.
Disability-Related Services for Students
Students needing help finding resources related to disability accommodations or other disability-related services, please contact Student Disability Services.