Page 15 - Campus Technology, October/November 2020
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Third-party technology providers under- stand the importance of being fully on board. Most organizations rely on third-party tech- nology partners as parts of their systems. A number of third-party solution providers in the education space demonstrate strong support for digital accessibility. Organizations like this know that if they aren’t accessible, then they aren’t competitive and, as a result, they’re pri- oritizing accessibility as much as performance and security. This is vital because, from a com- pliance perspective, higher ed institutions are responsible for ensuring all third-party ele- ments integrated into their sites are accessible. Before you make a purchase, protect your institution by verifying that the third-party software you are buying is actually accessible.
It’s encouraging that universities are paying more attention to digital accessibility, because these demands apply to far more than the web. Just as accessibility complaints against higher ed institutions have evolved in nature over time, we see accessibility demands extending to digital devices and other cutting-
edge instructional technologies being intro- duced in the classroom. Common teaching tools like attendance clickers, videoconferenc- ing and virtual resource sharing are growing in popularity, yet may be inaccessible to many people with disabilities. Furthermore, it’s not just students who will demand full accessibili- ty, but also employees.
Everyone deserves equal access to educa- tion, and as more educational content goes online — amplified by the current COVID-19 crisis — K-12 districts up to public and private universities must stay focused on digital acces- sibility. It is emerging across industries as a key human rights issue, and it only takes one per- son for a university to endure a potentially costly legal hit or reputational damage. While today’s higher education institutions have the right mindset and are starting to embrace the right tools, there is still much work to be done in order to make higher ed accessible to all.
Glenda Sims is Team A11Y (Accessibility) lead for Deque Systems.

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