Many people think DSS is responsible for all things accessible. While they really
do have super powers, they cannot bear the responsibility of making sure everything
at your institution is accessible. For example, they do not make/review/approve all
materials (and we wouldn’t want them to, right?). Second, they aren't Canvas experts,
and they don't always know how to make materials accessible themselves. Thus, we
really need to recognize that everyone has a role in promoting/ensuring accessibility.
DSS focuses on making sure people with documented disabilities have the assistive
technology they need and identify what constitutes appropriate accommodation. They
address the needs of the student, the institution, and the faculty while keeping abreast
of a number of disability rights laws and policies. I don't know how they do that
Suggested is to include DSS staff in conversations about new technology purchases.
They will serve as a great reminder that not all technology is accessible and can
help ask vendors about accessibility.
Let them know you are working on your course to make it more accessible.
Don't send your stuff to DSS to make it accessible (unless they've offered to help
- which is sometimes the case with captioning).
If you're an instructor, don't ignore accommodations notices - this will leave you
with very little time to ensure the student's rights are being respected.
Put Pressure on Publishers/Vendors
This was covered on the previous page, and is being brought up again because it's
important to remind publishers (and vendors) of the importance of accessibility.
Publishers and vendors are not responsible if their materials and resources are inaccessible.
You are responsible for selecting, using, and requiring their materials. So, tell
them you're only interested in accessible materials. Use your purchasing power to
advocate for accessibility.
When a publisher/vendor emails you, paste the following into your email response,
whether or not you are interested in the product
Thanks so much for contacting me about this new product. Before I give it a look,
I need you to answer the following questions:
Is this product accessible for people with disabilities? If so, explain what measures
you've taken to make it accessible.
What web guidelines do you follow to ensure 508 compliance?
Is a VPAT available?
If you are unaware of the WA State law requiring that students have access to accessible
course materials, please check out RCW 28B.10.916 http://apps.leg.wa.gov/Rcw/default.aspx?cite=28B.10.916
Accessibility is Part of Equity
There are a lot of conversations about student equity and student success, but people
forget about people with disabilities in these conversations. As efforts are being
made to ensure every student is supported, let's not forget students with disabilities.
We would never deny a student access due to their race, gender, religion, or social
class. But ignoring the needs and rights of students with disabilities is equivalent
to doing that. Remind people that disability status is to be included in any conversation
around equity and opportunity. Leverage those conversations and priorities to increase
the resources for accessibility.