|With increasing numbers of individuals with disabilities attending college and also participating in its work force, two very different four-year institutions in Virginia are approaching overall IT accessibility with an exciting collaborative effort.
The Assistive Technology Initiative (ATI) at George Mason University has increased visibility of IT accessibility issues on campus by focusing on roles and responsibilities within a top down approach. The ATI at GMU works to form partnerships throughout campus, which has essentially opened lines of communication for a more cost effective approach to tackling accessibility challenges. For example, the ATI put forward a Captioning Proposal and now provides free captioning for all Distance Education courses, classroom videos, and University promotional videos. GMU is also working towards adding more Departmental and Academic Unit training.
Without a specific IT accessibility or Assistive Technology office on campus, the Office of Disability Resources (ODR) at the University of Mary Washington is in a unique position to help shape IT accessibility policies and procedures on campus. Similar to the ATI at GMU, collaboration with various units on campus such as IT and the Division of Learning & Technologies, has allowed UMW the ability to approach IT accessibility universally.
In today’s economic times, many state and university budgets are constrained in a technologically advancing society. We are attempting to tackle how a statewide approach to IT accessibility can combat these two. Let us look at how we can blend our ideas and resources through a cost effective statewide approach.