2001 Conference Proceedings

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HIGHER EDUCATION: DEVELOPING AN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ACCESSIBILITY PLAN

Terry Thompson
Coordinator of Assistive and Information Technology
North Carolina State University
terry_thompson@ncsu.edu 
Voice: 919-513-3556
TDD: 919-515-8830

As electronic and information technology plays an ever-increasing role in higher education, it is increasingly critical for post-secondary educational institutions to ensure their technology is accessible. The first step toward this goal is developing an Information Technology Accessibility (ITA) Plan.

An ITA Plan should be the result of a careful evaluation of current campus computing resources, including current assistive technology, and current and anticipated accessibility needs. An ITA Plan should involve identification of, discussions with, and empowerment of key participants. Since most colleges and universities are understaffed in assistive technology, the planning process should be viewed as an opportunity for teambuilding. Establishing an diverse, expansive, and effective team will not only make life easier for the designated AT coordinator, but it will help to establish accessibility as part of the mainstream campus IT decision-making process, rather than as a separate consideration. Suggested team members may include (but are not limited to) the following groups:

Having completed an ITA Plan in September 2000, the presenter will discuss the components of North Carolina State University’s plan, and the process by which their plan was developed and is being implemented. NC State, like many institutions, currently provides the majority of its assistive technology through centralized AT labs. NC State's ITA Plan calls for a combined model, in which the existing AT labs continue to be maintained, but an increased emphasis is placed on distributed accessibility. Distributed accessibility will allow students with disabilities to access computing resources in non-segregated settings in their own colleges or in general purpose computing facilities.

NC State's ITA Plan specifically establishes the following initiatives:

Each of these initiatives will be discussed in more detail in the presentation. In addition, the presenter will facilitate audience discussion regarding other institutions' AT plans, policies, practices, funding solutions, staff solutions, and other topics related to AT and accessibility in higher education.


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