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Lucy Greco

  Accessibility in Education


The Difference a Policy Can Make: IT Accessibility Rollout at UC Berkeley

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In this post, UC Berkeley web accessibility expert Lucy Greco talks about the positive aftereffect of the 2013 IT Accessibility policy roll out across the University of California campus.
UC Berkeley students at a computer science class

Image: UC Berkeley students taking a computer science course. Image courtesy
Just a few short months ago, the outgoing president of the University of California created a policy to have all electronic assets become more accessible. Typically in academia, other than research, nothing much happens without a policy. In this case, the policy provided some guidance to people who wanted to do the right thing to get them on the path to inclusion.

It has been extraordinarily busy at Berkeley and throughout the University of California system. I am astounded to see people who previously threw up their hands in frustration, now focus on accessibility in their projects. By having a written statement that details the standards we must work towards, and how to prioritize accessibility benchmarks as well as the frameworks of compliance needed, people are now jumping on the bandwagon of accessibility. I have received more phone calls or emails in the last few months asking for assistance in creating project plans that adhere to the accessibility guidance than any other time in my sojourn with UC Berkeley.

Once we caught our breaths after passing the policy, we quickly realized that creating a prioritization scale is next on the cards. This scale will permit us to evaluate requests for assistance in making projects accessible and how best to serve them. I have a small team at Berkeley – there are three of us now. And the number of requests we are receiving could easily overwhelm us. What we have done is to create a rubric to evaluate each request and rank the level of service each of those requests will receive. We plan to publish this rubric soon. The rubric will also assist site owners and project leaders in determining where they are in the priority scale.

Another project we have begun in tandem to the rubric is creating language and information to be included in requests for purchases (RFPs) and requests for information (RFIs) about purchases the campus will be making. When the IT accessibility policy was initiated at UC, we knew that the U.S. federal government would soon be changing what its requirements were for accessibility on the Web. To better align with what we thought would be the new standards within the federal government and many other agencies around the world, we set W3C’s accessibility guidelines version 2.0 AA standards as our benchmark.

We did understand that this was a web standard primarily, but we wanted to be more complete than the soon-to-be replaced federal government standards Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act. We did not exclude 508 Standards but asked people to work towards the more complete W3C accessibility guidelines. We have only had a few major purchases happen on all of the UC campuses since the policy passed so we are busy working on language that can be included in all future purchases. We will publish this information as appropriate when completed.

I apologize that this update did not give you a formula for implementing accessibility policy. However, I wanted to write to give you all something to look forward to. Please feel free to reach out to me with ideas on any of the above that I can include or comments in general.


Related Resources

Blog: The Everyday Life of a Blind Technologist | Read Lucy Greco's Article.

Publication: CRPD 2013 ICT Accessibility Progress Report | View Report.

Event: G3ict Participates in ICT4IAL Project 3rd Advisory Group Meeting - October 28-29, 2013, Belgium | View Event Details.