Boise State Promotes Accessibility through Inclusive Excellence
Boise State University is committed to creating an atmosphere of inclusive excellence, one that ensures both equity and diversity. Part of inclusive excellence is the shared responsibility we all have to make digital information accessible–that is, usable by the broadest variety of people under the broadest array of circumstances.
Efforts to ensure accessibility benefit everyone
Consider this scenario:
Javier, Angelina, and Brooke are each enrolled in the same section of Introduction to Sociology, a course that relies heavily on educational video. The videos are all closed captioned, as required by law and university policy, primarily with the intention of making them accessible to people who are deaf or who have difficulty processing audio. Javier, Angelina, and Brooke all benefit from the accessible, closed-captioned video, but for very different reasons.
- Javier is hard of hearing; the closed captioning enables him to follow along with the video without having to repeat sections that he was unable to hear.
- Angelina is an English language learner; the captions reinforce her knowledge of English vocabulary, spelling, and sentence structure.
- Brooke is a new mother; when she puts her baby down to sleep, closed captioning allows her to study without disturbing the baby.
While this scenario applies to a captioned video within a course, the same concept applies to all the content we produce at the university whether it’s for the classroom, the web, or other publications. By removing barriers and allowing users to interact with content in a variety of ways that works best for them, we create a more accessible, and more inclusive campus environment.
Accessibility is a civil right and legal responsibility
While creating an inclusive environment is our shared responsibility to protect the civil rights of our students, faculty, and staff, there are also both federal laws and university policies to support and enforce the practice.
Americans with Disabilities Act
The main federal legislation associated with accessibility is the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the nation’s first comprehensive civil rights law addressing the needs of people with disabilities, prohibiting discrimination in employment, public services, public accommodations, and telecommunications.”
Boise State University Policy
Boise State has several policies related to accessibility as well.
- Policy 1060: Non-discrimination and Anti-harassment states the University is committed to maintaining a working and learning environment that is free of unlawful discrimination and harassment and in which every employee, student, contractor, vendor, customer, and visitor is treated with dignity and respect.
- Policy 1075: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of a Disability states the University and all members of the faculty and staff will operate its programs, activities, and services to ensure that no Individuals With Disabilities will be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in any such program, activity, or service solely because of their disability.
- Policy 2080: Equal Access for Students with Disabilities outlines the process for faculty to create accessible educational content and for students to request accommodations through the Educational Access Center.
- Policy 8040 University Web Pages and Electronic Publications states the University’s online presence is essential to its mission of teaching, research, creative work, and public service and that our online content will respect intellectual property, individual’s privacy, the need to make information available to everyone without regard to disability, the need to support open public dialogue, and respect for the law.
- Policy 8140 Information Technology Accessibility states the University seeks to deploy information technology that is designed, developed, or procured with accessibility in mind.
What can I do to help?
Be comfortable asking questions
It’s okay not to have all the answers about what accessibility is or to know right away if something is accessible or not. Remember, this is a journey we are all working towards together and we all likely have similar questions. So the best place to start is by asking questions.
Ask, what does it mean to be accessible? If you are publishing content for the web, ask yourself, how can I know if this is accessible? If you are purchasing new software or technology, ask yourself, is this accessible?</strong Asking questions will help you become more confident using the resources available on campus and more empowered creating an accessible, inclusive, environment.
Explore resources available for accessibility
From the classroom to our websites, Boise State University is committed to supporting a campus environment that is accessible to all, and in particular to individuals with disabilities. The online OIT Access Technology Resource Guide provides an overview of all the different resources available to create, publish, and share accessible content for students, faculty, staff, and the community.
Register for a Workshop
The Office of Information Technology hosts several workshops each month on digital accessibility. See what’s available this month at WordPress and Web Accessibility Training.
Put yourself in someone else’s shoes
You can also learn more about what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes by learning more from their experiences. Everyone has something going on and not all challenges are visible. With careful design and consideration, you can create experiences that are accessible, and inclusive for everyone. To learn more, we suggest viewing the ‘From Where I Sit’ video series created by California State University.
Current Accessibility Initiatives at Boise State
IT Accessibility Committee
A new, IT Accessibility Committee is charged with developing and overseeing the coordination on IT accessibility initiatives. This committee represents a broad range of functional areas and addresses academic, research, and administrative concerns and needs. Several initiatives are being developed through this committee including:
- An accessible procurement process
- An awareness campaign
- Creation of IT Accessibility Liaison
- Recommendations for creating accessible content
Web Content Accessibility Digital Micro-Certification Badging
Boise State’s Office of Information Technology recently launched a new initiative for creating accessible web content. The Web Content Accessibility Micro-Certification Badge is a free professional development opportunity for all eligible Boise State employees. The course is available in a flexible online format and designed to meet the needs of WordPress site administrators and web content editors to draft, edit, publish, and remediate accessible web content. For more details see Web Content Accessibility Micro-Certification Badge.
Boisestate.edu Web Redesign
A large-scale project is currently underway to modernize the web infrastructure and web design. We are incorporating best practice at every level in an effort to create a system is accessible to all users. Content contributors will be trained to use the system so that accessibility issues are not introduced through content, and we will continue to monitor and test the site in order to proactively find and fix new issues. The new system will be rolled out starting in the Summer of 2018. See the Boise State Webguide for more details.