Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility: FAQs

What is information technology accessibility?

It is generally recognized that access to information and electronic technologies is increasingly becoming the gateway civil rights issue for individuals with disabilities.  Documents, Web pages, e-mail, videos, and other electronic information must be designed in a manner that it can be accessed by the widest spectrum of users possible, including users with hearing, vision, learning, mobility or other impairments.

Who is responsible for ensuring that information at UM is accessible?

Each person and unit or department that posts a University or instructional Web site or provides information to students, employees, or even the public is responsible for ensuring that the information is accessible.  (Assistance is provided as specified below).

What are the requirements for information provided in the classroom?

Information presented in the classroom must be universally accessible.  All students must have the opportunity to join in class related experiences.  All presentations, including but not limited to multimedia, videos, YouTube clips, chat rooms, and other interactive electronic experiences, must be accessible.  This might require captioning videos and YouTube clips.  If electronic readers are provided or required, they must be fully accessible.  Web sites that contain information used in instruction must be accessible to all students.  (Assistance is provided as specified below).

What are the concerns about electronic readers?

Most electronic readers are not accessible.  Although they might contain speech-to-text capabilities, they might not contain the similar audio option for the navigational controls making it impossible for a blind student to use the device independently.  Without accessible navigational controls, blind students have no way of knowing which book they select, how to access a search, nor can they use the note taking or bookmark functions.

What are the standards for Web accessibility?

The University strives for universal accessibility.  Staff and faculty should create only universally accessible content and documents, e-mails, and Web sites.  Specific information about how to achieve universal accessibility is provided by Accessible Technology Services in Information Technology.

What if a video, YouTube, or other multimedia presentation that a professor wants to use in the classroom is not captioned?

The professor should attempt to obtain a captioned version from the library or another source.  If this is not viable, the professor may arrange for the video or YouTube to be captioned.  This will take advanced planning.  Disability Services for Students can assist with captioning.  At a minimum a transcript must be made available to students who cannot hear or otherwise obtain the information from an uncaptioned video or YouTube.

What sorts of documentation and educational materials require special attention to be made accessible?

Written documents (such as Word or .pdf documents), e-mails, Web pages, and multimedia materials may all require special attention in order to be accessible.

What other resources are available for students with disabilities to help them access the computer, internet, or other electronic resources?

There are several assistive technologies available for students to use to remove barriers due to blindness, hearing limitations, keyboard barriers, and spelling or expressive writing limitations.  Disability Services for Students coordinators will work with individual students to determine which reasonable accommodations will work, including assistive technologies.  DSS has descriptions of assistive technologies available to students.

What should a department do if it has archived videos or other presentations posted to a website, but they are not required for any particular student learning experience?

To the extent possible, these should contain synchronized captioning. If there are frequent requests to have particular presentations captioned, the department should make it a priority to obtain synchronized captioning.  If captioning is not practicable, upon request, essential information in the presentation shall be made available in an accessible format to a person who cannot otherwise access the presentation. 

What steps should be taken to create a YouTube, video, or other electronic presentation to ensure it is accessible?

Contact the Information Technology Office to find out how to create an accessible presentation.

Information Technology Office
Social Science 126
IT Office  406.243.5350
IT Central  406.243.HELP

Where should a student go to request an accommodation for a disability?

Students should go to Disability Services for Students (DSS) to request an accommodation for a disability or to seek more information about accommodations for disabilities.

Disability Services for Students
154 Lommasson Center

Where should an employee go to request an accommodation for a disability?

Employees should contact Sara Drake in Human Resource Services (HRS) to request an accommodation for a disability or to seek more information about workplace accommodations. 

Human Resource Services
252 Lommasson
Sara Drake:  406.243.5705

What should I do if someone complains about not being able to access electronic or information technology at UM?

If the individual is a student, refer them to DSS.  If the individual is a University employee, refer them to HRS.  If the individual has contacted DSS and HRS and is still dissatisfied, or if the individual is a member of the public, refer them to the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office.

Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action Office
University Hall 020

Where can I find more information about advancing educational opportunities for people who are deaf or hard of hearing?

The Web site for Disability Services for Students offers additional information.