Accessibil-IT: It's People, Not Just Standards

CCC Accessibility CenterTechnology standards are a fundamental aspect towards ensuring the reliable interoperability of devices and systems as well as the exchange of information in a consistent and accurate manner.

Two sets of standards specific to electronic and information technology (EIT) accessibility and most relevant to our work in higher education include the U.S. Section 508 Standards and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, 2.0 (WCAG 2.0).

The 508 Standards, as they are commonly known, identify technical criteria to support access by individuals with disabilities using desktop/portable computers, websites, software applications, audio/video media and telecommunications products. In related fashion, WCAG 2.0 recommends how to make web content accessible to individuals with disabilities by emphasizing four basic principles from which guidelines and success criteria are derived.

And yet, while these accessibility standards help establish minimum levels of access for websites, computers and other devices, it is critical to remember that it is not just about meeting a standard but rather ensuring that individuals with disabilities have an equivalent opportunity to interact and participate in the technological world we employ.

Accessible EIT

Over the past several years, through compliance reviews, resolution agreements and legal settlements, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has clarified the term “accessible,” particularly as it applies to the use of electronic and information technology at the institutional level:

“Accessible” means a person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability in an equally effective and equally integrated manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use.
(Source: OCR Compliance Review No. 11-11-6002)

Accessibility standards for EIT can provide guidance and direction towards building and creating accessible technology solutions in our campus environments. In fact, OCR has reiterated using WCAG 2.0, Level AA as the standard for websites and web-based applications along with the Section 508 Standards for other supported technologies. Yet, our focus for the students we serve now and for the students who are yet to come, should be not only in meeting these standards, but rather ensuring that students with disabilities have the opportunity to engage with the technology environments at our institutions in a manner equivalent to that of their non-disabled peers.

As we employ technology to enrich the academic experiences of our students, faculty, staff and members of the public, it is incumbent upon us to think creatively when implementing these new and innovative solutions. Whether it is working in partnership with vendors to affirm our accessibility expectations, developing products and services in-house, or when drafting policies and administrative procedures, EIT accessibility standards can be a part of the solution towards ensuring access. We must also remember, though, that we are pursuing a larger goal in that students with disabilities have the same opportunity to engage and interact with the solutions afforded to the greater campus community.

CCC Accessibility Center

This article is the first in a new CCC TechEDge News opinion column by the California Community Colleges (CCC) Accessibility Center that will explore issues related to electronic and IT accessibility.

Diversity and inclusion are core values embraced by the CCC. Accessible websites and information technology positively impacts individuals with disabilities, offering greater opportunity for engagement and participation in pursuit of lifelong learning throughout our community college system.

The CCC Accessibility Center is a fully funded systemwide initiative operated by the CCC Technology Center to provide guidance, resources and technical assistance to advance the accessibility of electronic and information technology in the CCC.

For more information about the resources offered by the CCC Accessibility Center, visit CCCAccessibility.org, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Sean Keegan is Director of the CCC Accessibility Center


Add comment