Technology is accessible when people with and without disabilities are able to use it independently to get the same information, engage in the same interactions and receive the same services in the same time frame. Anytime a student without a disability might need to use technology for an assignment, test, or classwork, a disabled student will definitely need to use it too.
Here are some things to consider to make sure your campus is accessible:
1. Hardware and Software
The most familiar kind of accommodations that need to be made are for people who are: blind or have a visual impairment, deaf or hard of hearing, unable to use a mouse, unable to use a keyboard, or wheelchair users.
These kind of accommodations will mostly be hardware like:
- Wheelchair accessible desks
- Trackballs, etc.
Sometimes it might be programs or features like:
- Captions for videos
- Text-based web browser with screen reading software or Braille output
- Speech to text software
But how do you communicate where to find computers with accessible tech? LabStats software includes two features that make it easy to track and share resources: LabMaps and Tags.
Tags allow you to assign attributes to specific pieces of equipment so you can filter reports by accessibility features. For example, if you want to see all the hardware and software designed to help hearing impaired students take tests, tag each piece with “Hearing Impaired.” Once your tags are in place, you can start tracking usage to see if the hardware and software are being used, where they’re used and who is using them. With this data in hand, you can make informed decisions about increasing resources, moving underutilized resources to a different part of the campus, or removing unused products.
LabMaps is a feature included in the LabStats software that displays real-time maps of available computers on campus. Maps can be displayed on student facing kiosks, school websites or mobile apps to help students find accessible resources faster.
2. Testing Accommodations
If students are required to take tests on computers, there must be accommodations made to allow individuals with disabilities to demonstrate their true aptitude or achievement level on standardized exams or other high-stakes tests. Examples of the wide range of testing accommodations that may be required include: screen reading technology, touchscreens, extended time, etc.
But simply having these accommodations available will not help your students unless they know accommodations are available and how to find them. By using LabMaps, students can quickly and easily find accessible computers that are available to take their tests without feeling hindered.
The Tags feature can also help you understand who is using computers for testing and who’s not without violating student data privacy laws. By tagging users (students) who have disabilities you can run reports on how many of those students are actually using them for testing, how many are not doing tests, and how many are not disabled users. This data can help facilitate better use of your resources as you decide who you allow use of hardware or what software to install on certain machines.
Benefits of Accessible Technology
Here are a few benefits to accommodating before accessibility becomes a legal issue including, but not limited to:
- Recruiting and retaining students with disabilities
- Earning a reputation for being a center of excellence for accessibility
- Reducing risk of litigation
Accommodating for students with disabilities doesn’t have to be a headache. Following these simple guidelines can help you make sure that everyone on campus can utilize the technology that you have to offer. LabStats can help you track accessible technology and communicate it’s availability and location to all students.