Using Data to Increase Accessibility

February 21, 2019 |  Students
2 min

So you’ve invested in accessible technology for your college or university, now what? Providing specialized hardware and software for disabled students is only part of the equation.

So you’ve invested in accessible technology for your college or university, now what? Providing specialized hardware and software for disabled students is only part of the equation.

  • Where do you install accessible hardware?
  • How will students find accessible software resources?
  • How do you know if it’s being used?
  • How do you know if you have enough?

Before we dive into the answers, let’s review types of accessible technology for higher education.

  Common Disabilities               Accessible Technology for Schools
Physical disabilityTouchscreens
Alternative keyboards
Joysticks and trackballs
Speech recognition
Head pointers
Mouth sticks
Eye-gaze tracking systems
Wheelchair accessible computer lab desks

Screen readers
Text-to-Speech synthesizers
Refreshable Braille displays
Has low visionScreen magnification software
Hearing impairedCaptioned videos
Transcribed audio
Has dyslexiaScreen readers
Synchronized highlighting in text-to-speech software

Once the accessible hardware or software has been installed, tracking usage can help you optimize your computer labs and ensure students with disabilities have the resources they need.

Where to install accessible hardware and software

Determine where to install accessible resources strategically by looking at usage of all computer labs on campus. For instance, students who use screen readers may prefer to work in quiet computer labs. To identify the least used (and quietest) labs on campus, run a Peak Usage History Report that compares the activity level in different-sized labs, based on percentage. With this data in hand, strategically install screen readers in quiet labs.

Peak Usage History Report

Help students find accessible resources

Make wheelchair accessible computer labs easier to find on campus. Use LabMaps to show real-time availability of computers and display the maps on student-facing kiosks and your university website. Include icons in your LabMaps background that indicate accessible hardware such as wheelchair accessible desks.

Wheelchair Accessible Computer Lab Map
LabMap with Accessibility Icons

How to see if accessible technology is being used

Quickly see how the accessible technology on campus is being used to justify budget requests and keep administration up to date. With LabStats, you can tag different types of hardware and software (including web apps) with group identifiers such as “Vision Impaired” and then track usage collectively. Then easily export and share the usage report with administration, donors or key organizations.

Login Summary by Group Report

Determine the right amount of accessible tech

Making campus technology accessible for all students should be an ongoing effort. Use reports in LabStats to see if any of the resources tagged with “Accessibility” are approaching 100% utilization. For instance, if the handful of computers that offer synchronized highlighting in text-to-speech software are always in use, it may be time to add the software to more computers. You can also anonymously tag users who request specific accommodations and track usage to ensure those who need accessible hardware and software are the ones using it.

Take the next step in optimizing your campus technology to be accessible for all. Schedule a walkthrough or chat with a representative to see how LabStats can help you track, share and improve accessibility in your college or university computer labs.

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