ATHEN E-Journal Issue #4 (2009)
University of Washington
Seattle, Washington USA
University of Southampton
City University of New York
New York, NY USA
In April and May 2008, Access Technology Higher Education Network (ATHEN) conducted a six-part on-line survey related to technology accessibility. The survey consisted of six sections designed to assess current practices related to assistive technology, information technology accessibility, web accessibility, multimedia accessibility, alternative format production, and staffing issues. Participants in the current study were 149 individual self-selected representatives from 106 higher education institutions in seven countries. Results indicate that many higher education institutions around the world are working hard to address the accessibility of their information technology resources, deploying assistive technologies (often in multiple labs across campus), developing and implementing IT and web accessibility policies, considering accessibility when purchasing enterprise-wide applications such as learning management systems, and producing or procuring documents in alternative formats for students who require them. However, results also reveal that there is still considerable work to be done in each of these areas in order to reach full accessibility for students with disabilities.
Higher education institutions worldwide have legal and ethical responsibilities for assuring that programs and services are accessible to individuals with disabilities. Growing numbers of these programs and services are provided using information technologies (Green, 2006; IMS Global Learning Consortium, 2007; Salaway & Nelson, 2007). As such, institutions are working to assure that students with disabilities have access to the information technology (IT) tools required for their academic programs.
In some cases assuring accessibility is as simple as providing students with access to assistive technologies (AT) such as screen reader applications for blind users; screen magnification software for users with low vision; speech recognition or other alternative input technologies for users with mobility impairments; and scan, highlight and read software solutions for users with dyslexia or other disabilities affecting their ability to read print.
However, as IT becomes increasingly prevalent in education, provision of AT to students is only one step in a much greater effort that requires participation from a wide variety of stakeholders throughout higher education organizations. For example, in order for computer labs and computer-equipped classrooms to be accessible, individuals and groups who manage and maintain these environments must consider their accessibility; in order for academic and administrative software and web-based applications to be accessible, individuals and groups who develop, procure, and deploy these applications must consider accessibility; if video or audio podcasts are used in delivering course material, these materials must be captioned or transcribed for students who are deaf or hard of hearing and narrated for students who are blind.
The study presented in this paper builds upon earlier research conducted in 2001 (North Carolina State University) and 2004 (Thompson, 2004, 2005). The 2004 study, like the present study, was conducted on behalf of Access Technology Higher Education Network (ATHEN), and has become an ongoing project of ATHEN, designed to periodically update the current knowledge base regarding higher education institutions' practices, procedures, and policies for addressing students' IT accessibility needs.
Participants in the current study were 149 individual self-selected representatives from 106 higher education institutions in seven countries. Participants in the study were recruited by sending announcements to several prominent online discussion lists related to IT accessibility in higher education, and encouraging recipients of these announcements to forward the announcements through additional applicable channels. Recruitment efforts were concentrated in United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Republic of Ireland. All but five of the participants were from these four countries: There were 52 colleges and universities from the United States (49%), 28 from the United Kingdom (26%), 12 from Canada (11%), and 9 from the Republic of Ireland (9%). Additionally, three institutions from South Africa participated, as did one each from Australia and New Zealand. Note that percentage values throughout this paper are rounded to the nearest whole number in order to improve readability.
Colleges and universities in the United States were organized using the Basic version of the Carnegie Classification System (Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 2006). Of the 52 participating U.S. institutions, 23 (44%) were from doctorate-granting institutions, 17 (33%) were from associate's colleges, 11 (21%) were from master's colleges and universities, and 1 (2%) was from a baccalaureate college. The lone baccalaureate college was not included in comparisons across Carnegie classification. The majority of U.S. institutions (89%) were public institutions, with 12% being private not-for-profit institutions.
U.S. institutions were additionally organized geographically into one of four primary regions (West, Northeast, Midwest, and South) as defined by the United States Census Bureau. The majority of U.S. institutions were located in the West (27, or 52%), while 13 institutions (25%) were located in the Midwest, and 6 each (12%) were located in the South or Northeast.
A six-part on-line survey was developed, with each of the six sections designed to be completed either by one individual per institution, or up to six, depending on how accessibility-related tasks are distributed within that institution. The survey instrument was available on-line from April 16 through May 16, 2008. Each individual participant was required to create an account in a web-based survey application that was developed specifically for the current study. After creating an account, users were required to validate their email address, identify their country, select their institution from a pre-populated database of over 4000 higher education institutions worldwide, and finally complete the survey section(s) most applicable to their role(s) at the institution. In the announcement and on the survey home page participants were encouraged to collaborate with colleagues at their institutions to ensure that all survey sections were completed for their institutions.
The six survey sections were defined as follows in the email announcement and on the survey home page:
- Assistive Technology Products - to be completed by the person most knowledgeable of AT that are available to students at your institution.
- Information Technology Accessibility - to be completed by the person most knowledgeable of procurement policies and/or procedures related to accessibility of IT at your institution.
- Web Accessibility - to be completed by the person most knowledgeable of web accessibility efforts at your institution.
- Multimedia Accessibility - to be completed by the person most knowledgeable of efforts to ensure multimedia (video, podcasts, etc.) is accessible at your institution.
- Alternative Format Production - to be completed by the person most knowledgeable of practices and procedures for providing print materials in alternative formats for students at your institution.
- Staffing and Salaries - to be completed by the person most knowledgeable of position descriptions, salaries, qualifications, etc. for all positions whose primary focus is AT, IT accessibility, web accessibility, multimedia accessibility, and/or alternative format production at your institution. Alternatively, each relevant staff person can complete this information about their own position. Note that individual users, even if affiliated with the same institution, cannot see each others' survey responses. Please coordinate completion of this section with others from your institution.
None of the six survey sections was completed by all institutions. Section 1 had the highest completion rate (91 institutions, 86% of sample). Section 2 was completed by 61 institutions (58%), Section 3 by 58 (55%), Section 4 by 52 (49%), Section 5 by 70 (66%), and Section 6 by 60 (57%).
In most cases (76% of institutions), only one individual completed the survey for their institution. Of the 24% of institutions with multiple survey participants, 12 had two participants, 10 had three, 2 had four, and 1 had five. Several participants contacted the lead author by email, having tried but failed to recruit the most knowledgeable people on their campuses to complete various sections of the survey, citing their colleagues' lack of time or motivation.
Survey findings are summarized below by survey section. Results reported here reflect overall trends for the entire sample. Notable differences by U.S. Carnegie Classification are also reported where observed. Results were generally consistent across all participating countries. Therefore the present article does not dwell extensively on comparisons between countries, although a few observations are noted. A more extensive international perspective on the survey results is reported in Asuncion, Draffan, Guinan, & Thompson (2008).
Assistive Technology Products
When asked to identify how their institution approaches delivery of AT (dedicated AT lab, one or more public computing labs, or other), the majority of institutions (77%) said that they deploy AT in one or more public computing labs. This high percentage is consistent across all Carnegie classifications in the U.S. However there are significant international differences, discussed by Asuncion et al (2008). Multiple responses were possible on this question, and 58% of institutions said they additionally deploy AT in a dedicated lab, and 34% responded "Other". The most notable of the "Other" responses were the four institutions who reported distributing AT through loaner programs, in which individual students are provided with AT software and/or hardware.
When asked whether their institution has a method in place to assess effectiveness of AT delivery, 35% of institutions answered "Yes", and when these institutions were asked to elaborate, the most common responses included administration of student surveys and tracking of usage statistics. Irish institutions were more likely than others to respond "Yes" to this question, and their responses are discussed in more detail by Asuncion et al (2008).
When asked "When students need AT training, how is it delivered? (check all that apply)", the most common response among seven options was "Informal demonstrations and training for individuals, as the need arises", which was selected by 77% of participants. This was the most common response for all countries other than the U.K., where the most common response was "formal training sessions for individuals" (65%, compared to 52% outside the U.K.). This difference in formal vs. informal training is examined more fully by Asuncion et al (2008).
When asked who primarily offers AT training to students, 66% of institutions selected "Professional disability services staff" from a list of 10 choices (multiple selections were possible). This was the most common response across all countries and Carnegie classifications (ranging from 42% of Canadian participants to 83% of Irish participants). In the U.S., 90% of master's colleges selected this item, as opposed to 75% of associate's colleges and 68% of doctorate-granting institutions. The second most common response on this question was "Professional technology staff", although only 35% of overall participants selected this item. Professional technology staff is most commonly utilized for training students in the U.K. (where 44% of participants selected this item), and at doctorate-granting universities in the U.S. (42%). In contrast, only 20% of master's colleges and universities and 38% of associate's colleges in the U.S. selected this item.
Participants reported funding AT purchases primarily through a general disability services budget (65%). Other selections included grant money (30%), general information technology budget (29%), budget set aside by institution specifically for AT (23%), and student technology fee (15%). International funding models, and how they may have influenced responses to this question, are discussed in by Asuncion et al (2008). Within the U.S., student technology fees are more common as a means of funding AT in doctorate-granting universities (32%) and master's colleges and universities (30%) than in associate's colleges (19%).
When asked whether they participate in any regional or national AT group-purchasing arrangements with other institutions, only six institutions responded "Yes" - two of these were in Canada, two in the U.K., one in the U.S., and one in Australia.
Specific AT Products
Participants were asked to identify which AT products they install and support in a variety of product categories. They were also asked to identify whether these products are installed in multiple locations or in a single location, and whether they are networked or standalone.
The most popular screen reader application among participants was Freedom Scientific JAWS (81%), a consistent finding across all countries and Carnegie classifications, although in the U.K. Dolphin Supernova was a close second (at 57%, compared to 65% for JAWS), not surprising since Dolphin is a U.K.-based company. A strong majority of participants (75%) reported providing screen reader applications in multiple locations, either as standalone installations (42%), networked installations (30%), or a combination of both (21%).
The most popular screen magnification software application among participants was AI Squared Zoomtext (75%), with second choices being Freedom Scientific Magic (15%) and Dolphin Supernova (14%). As was the case with screen readers, Dolphin Supernova was more popular in the U.K. than elsewhere (52% of U.K. participants selected this product). Also like screen readers, screen magnification software was typically installed in multiple locations (76%), either as standalone installations (46%), networked installations (26%), or a combination of both (18%).
The most popular scanning-and-reading solution among overall participants were the Kurzweil products, Kurzweil 3000 (70%) and Kurzweil 1000 (44%). TextHelp Read and Write Gold was also popular (48%), although there were strong differences by country (100% in TextHelp's home country of Ireland, 83% in the U.K., 50% in Canada, and 26% in the U.S.) Scanning-and-reading solutions were typically installed in multiple locations (71%), either as standalone installations (43%), networked installations (25%), or a combination of both (23%).
TextHelp also had the most popular product (Read and Write) in the category of text-to-speech software, installed and supported by 54% of participants overall, including 100% in Ireland, 87% in the U.K., 50% in Canada, and 33% in the U.S. Popular second choices in the U.S. were ReadPlease and Nextup TextAloud, each selected by 24% of U.S. participants. Text-to-speech software was typically installed in multiple locations (67%), either as standalone installations (41%), networked installations (21%), or a combination of both (19%).
The most popular speech recognition application among participants was Nuance Dragon Naturally Speaking (82%). Additionally, 10% of participants selected MacSpeech iListen, and 4% (all from the U.S.) selected Metroplex Voice Computing MathTalk. Speech recognition applications were typically installed in multiple locations (47%) as opposed to single locations (35%), except in the U.K., where this trend was reversed (39% of participants selected "single location", and only 17% selected "multiple locations"). The majority of participants across all countries and Carnegie classifications reporting installing speech recognition on standalone machines (69%) rather than networked (7%) or a combination of both (4%). This is not surprising given the unique privacy, security, and noise-related issues that must be considered when deploying speech recognition technology.
The most popular word prediction software application among participants was TextHelp Read and Write (50%), with the most common second choice being Don Johnston Co:Writer (12%). Word prediction software was typically installed in multiple locations (47%) on standalone machines (34%).
The most popular concept mapping or organizational software application among participants was Inspiration (71%). In the U.K. 26% of participants additionally selected MindGenius, but no participants from any other country did so. This was certainly influenced by a licensing agreement for MindGenius negotiated in the U.K. by Eduserv's License Negotiation Services (Eduserv, n.d.). Concept mapping or organizational software applications were typically installed in multiple locations (55%) on standalone machines (53%).
Few institutions reported providing hands-free/speech-free input systems such as head-motion or eye-tracking systems for students. Of the 21 institutions (23%) who identified a product in this category (including any specific product identified under "Other"), 15 (71%) were in the United States. Other countries where products in this category were identified were Canada (3 institutions), the U.K. (2 institutions), and New Zealand (1 institution). The U.S. responses were fairly evenly distributed between doctorate-granting universities (33%) and associate's colleges (29%), while only one master's college/university identified a product in this category. The low numbers in this category are not surprising since these products are expensive and highly specialized, and are therefore most likely to be purchased ad-hoc for an individual student.
As alternatives to mice, 71% of institutions reported installing rollerballs or trackballs, 31% install joysticks, and 34% install touchpads. This distribution is consistent across countries and Carnegie classifications. However the approach to installing mouse alternatives differed by country. In the U.S., 63% of mouse alternatives were installed in multiple locations vs. 24% in single locations. In Canada and Ireland, this finding was reversed (42% single location vs. 17% multiple locations in Canada; 50% single location vs. 17% multiple locations in Ireland). In the U.K., 35% of mouse alternatives were installed in multiple locations, and 30% were installed in a single location. As keyboard alternatives, 68% of institutions installed ergonomic keyboards, 47% install large print keyboards, and 21% install Braille keyboards. These trends are fairly consistent across countries and Carnegie classifications.
Participating institutions reported using a variety of Braille embossers, including Index Brailler (22%), Enabling Technologies Juliet (20%), and ViewPlus Tiger Embosser (19%). For those participants who reported owning a Braille embosser, it was most commonly located in a specialized AT lab (63%). The second most common location for Braille embossers was the library (18% of overall participants), a finding that is disproportionately higher in the U.K (36%) and among doctorate-granting universities in the U.S. (22%) than other groups. Of the four master's colleges/universities and six associate's colleges in the U.S. who reported owning a Braille embosser, none had their embosser located in the library. This fact may be simply explained by the fact that Braille embossers tend to produce significant noise; and, as quiet facilities, libraries would avoid these devices.
Information Technology Accessibility
Most participating institutions (87%) offer web-based distance learning at some level, and 100% of participants reported using a learning management system (LMS). Of these, 39% used Blackboard, 36% used Moodle, 25% used WebCT, and 18% used custom applications developed in-house. This distribution was relatively consistent across countries and Carnegie classifications, with the exception of Ireland, the U.K. and doctorate-granting research universities in the U.S., where a greater proportion of institutions reported using Moodle and/or custom-developed applications. Further details are provided by Asuncion et al (2008).
When asked whether accessibility was a consideration when acquiring their LMS, 51% responded "Yes". This response was stronger in the U.K. than elsewhere, where 75% responded "Yes".
Content management systems (CMS) had not been embraced as fully among participating institutions as had LMS, with only 56% of participants reporting using a CMS. The percentage was higher in Canada than in other countries (71%), and higher in doctorate-granting universities (93%) than in other U.S. Carnegie classifications. By comparison, only 46% of associate's colleges, and 25% of master's colleges and universities reported using a CMS.
When asked whether accessibility was a consideration when acquiring their CMS, only 28% of participants whose institutions use a CMS responded "Yes". This number was higher at doctorate-granting universities (43%) than it was at associate's colleges (15%) or master's colleges/universities (0% of 4 participants who reported using a CMS).
When asked whether their institution currently has policies and/or procedures that require consideration of accessibility when acquiring information technology, 46% responded "Yes". By country, affirmative responses were recorded among 44% of institutions in the U.S., 33% in the U.K., 43% in Canada, and 100% in Ireland (4 participants). By U.S. Carnegie classification, affirmative responses were recorded among 63% of master's colleges and universities, 46% of associate's colleges, and 36% of doctorate-granting institutions.
If institutions claimed to have an IT accessibility policy, they were asked what standards or guidelines were used to support the policy. The most common response was "standards based on national legislation" (54%), followed by "state or provincial standards or guidelines" (21%) and "we developed our own standards or guidelines" (14%).
When asked whether their institution has a project, system or strategy in place to assess the accessibility of its information technology resources, 34% of participants responded "Yes". This percentage was highest among doctorate-granting universities and master's colleges and universities in the U.S., both of which had "Yes" responses among 50% of participants, in contrast to only 23% of U.S. associate's colleges. When asked to elaborate, fourteen U.S. participants and six from elsewhere were inspired to describe their programs at length, more so than on any other question (mean response length was 208 characters). Demographically, the fourteen U.S. participants who provided details included eight from the West (six of these were from California), four from the Midwest, and one each from the South and Northeast.
The detailed responses from participants outside the U.S. consistently reported having policies and guidelines for purchasing IT, plus formal and user-based testing procedures to ensure accessibility of web content. In Ireland, the responsibility for procuring accessible products was said to rest on the hands of the institution's IT department.
U.S. institutions that provided detailed responses reported levels of preparedness that vary from being in the early stages of developing guidelines and procedures, to having formal policies and procedures for procuring IT and ensuring accessibility of web-based material. Institutions in the latter group also reported having well-defined responsibilities and processes for procurement, as well as mechanisms for IT testing, distance learning, and faculty training.
A majority of participating institutions (59%) reported having a single person or office responsible for consulting with their institution's web authors on web accessibility. This was higher in the U.S. than elsewhere (70% in the U.S., 50% in Ireland, 43% in Canada, and 33% in the U.K.). Furthermore, it was especially high among doctorate-granting universities (81%) and associate's colleges (62%) in the U.S.
Those who responded "Yes" were asked follow-up questions regarding the roles and responsibilities of the person or group. Of five roles offered as choices, three were consistently selected by participants across all countries and U.S. Carnegie classifications: "Making recommendations to web designers, authors, and/or developers" (79% overall), "Consulting with individual web developers" (77%), and "Reviewing or monitoring institution web pages for accessibility" (74%). Less frequent roles were "Teaching about web accessibility" (56% overall, but 92% for doctorate-granting universities) and "Making code-level changes to websites to correct accessibility problems" (32% overall, especially high among associate's colleges, where 63% reporting having this responsibility).
When asked whether their institution has a documented policy regarding web accessibility, 55% of institutions said "Yes", with little variation across countries or Carnegie classifications.
If institutions claimed to have a web accessibility policy, they were asked what standards or guidelines the policy was based upon. The most common response was "standards based on national legislation" (34%), although there was variability by country and Carnegie classification. In the U.S., 50% of participants said their policy was based on national legislation, the implication being Section 508. In the U.K., 67% of institutions identified the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0 Priority 2 as their standard.
Nine institutions overall indicated that their web accessibility policy has an enforcement mechanism (five in the U.S., two in the U.K., and one in Canada).
When asked whether anyone, in their role at their institution, had taken steps to improve the accessibility of several specific web technologies, results showed that there is indeed considerable effort in the field to address accessibility of emerging web technologies. Specifically, 50% had worked to address accessibility of portals, 43% dynamic web applications (e.g., Flash, AJAX), 24% wikis/blogs, 16% social networking applications, and 10% web conferencing applications.
Of the 52 institutions that completed Section 4 of the Survey, 13 (25%) reported having an internal centralized service for captioning multimedia content for users who are deaf or hard of hearing. Nine of these were in the U.S., two were in Canada, and there was one each in the U.K. and Ireland.
Similarly, 12 institutions (23%) reported having an internal centralized service for transcribing audio content (e.g., podcasts) for users who are deaf or hard of hearing. Seven of these were in the U.S., there were two each in the U.K. and Canada, and one was in Ireland.
Ten institutions (19%) reported having an internal centralized service for audio describing multimedia content (i.e., producing descriptive narration) for users who are blind or visually impaired. Six of these were in the U.S., and there was one each in Canada, the U.K., Ireland, and Australia. With the exception of the Australian participant, these were the same institutions who answered "Yes" to the previous two questions.
When asked where each of these services resides within the organizational structure, the most common response for all three services was "disability services". Of the 10-12 institutions who provide these services, disability services offices account for 85% of captioning services, 75% of audio transcription, and 80% of audio description production. Interestingly, only two institutions reported hosting captioning services within "video services", and only one of these reported transcription and audio description services being hosted through video services.
Participants reported that multimedia accessibility is typically the responsibility of one or fewer full time equivalent (FTE) staff person(s). Of those who provide captioning services, 54% do so with one FTE, and 15% do so with less than one. Of those who provide audio description services, 30% do so with one FTE, and 40% do so with less than one. Transcript production has slightly more staff, with 25% of institutions reporting having 2-3 FTE's, while 17% have one FTE, and 33% have less than one.
Alternative Format Production
Of the 70 institutions that completed this section of the survey, 77% reported having an internal centralized service for producing alternative format materials. This was highest in the U.S. (88% overall, 94% at doctorate-granting universities, 90% at master's colleges and universities, and 79% at associate's colleges). Percentages were lower outside the U.S., with 64% of U.K participants, 60% of Irish participants, and 56% of Canadian participants producing their own alternative format. Differences by country are explored more extensively by Asuncion et al (2008).
Those institutions that do in-house alternative format production typically do so from within the disability services office (91%). This finding was consistent across countries and Carnegie classifications. Over half of institutions who provide alternative format production reported doing so with one or fewer FTE staff person(s), although a few institutions are more fully staffed. One institution reported having more than 5 FTE's, five (9%) have 4-5 FTE's, 22% have 2-3, 50% have one, and 15% have less than one. The six participants who reported having 4-5 or more staff included five doctorate-granting universities in the U.S., and one in Canada.
In-house alternative format services were typically used for producing large print (81% of participants do so in-house), electronic text (86% of participants do so in-house), and audio (74% of participants do so in-house). In-house production of Braille was slightly less common (61% of participants produce Braille in-house, while 49% outsource). All U.S. doctorate-granting universities (100%) produce their own Braille, but only 60% of master's colleges and universities and 57% of associate's colleges do so. Braille production is also less common outside of the U.S., with 60% of participants in Ireland, 36% in the U.K. and only 22% in Canada claiming to provide in-house Braille services.
In-house production of DAISY documents is also uncommon, with only 33% of participants reporting providing this service. Furthermore, only 34% outsource DAISY production. Of the 43% who checked "Other", the most common write-in responses (12 each, 17%) indicated that institutions had not yet received any requests for DAISY documents, or (in the U.S.) institutions were using loan libraries such as Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D) or Bookshare.org.
Services such as RFB&D and Bookshare.org were also mentioned when participants were asked whether their institution participates in any regional or national consortia or other efforts to share alternative format materials. Overall, 49% of institutions responded "Yes" and when prompted to describe these consortia, responses varied by country and region. Details are reported by Asuncion et al (2008).
Staffing and Salaries
Reports from Section 6 of the survey (on staffing and salaries) are reported separately by Thompson, 2008.
These results should be interpreted cautiously, since results from survey sections with lower participation rates (especially Sections 2 - 4) may be skewed toward institutions who are actually taking steps toward improving their IT accessibility (Section 2), web accessibility (Section 3), and multimedia accessibility (Section 4). Those who have nothing positive to report may have been less likely to complete these sections.
That said, responses to this survey do indicate that many higher education institutions around the world are working hard to address the accessibility of their information technology resources, deploying assistive technologies (often in multiple labs across campus), developing and implementing IT and web accessibility policies, considering accessibility when purchasing enterprise-wide applications such as learning management systems, and producing or procuring documents in alternative formats for students who require them. There's a glimmer of promise in the fact that 77% of institutions deploy their AT in public labs, and 51% considered accessibility in the purchase of their LMS, and 55% have a web accessibility policy, and 46% have policies and/or procedures that require consideration of accessibility when acquiring IT products, and 34% have a project, system, or strategy in place to assess the accessibility of their IT resources.
Lest we take too much comfort in these numbers, however, the converse of this set of numbers could also said to be true: 23% of institutions do not deploy their AT in public labs, 49% did not consider accessibility in the purchase of their LMS, 45% do not have a web accessibility policy, 54% do not have policies and/or procedures that require consideration of accessibility when acquiring IT products, and 66% do not have a project, system, or strategy in place to assess the accessibility of their IT resources.
Another issue of possible concern is that disability services offices continue to play a predominant role in technology accessibility, despite the likely scenario that they are outsiders with regards to critical technology decisions and day-to-day operations. Technology continues to play an increasingly integral role in academic and administrative functions, and in most situations those responsible for technology on campus are central to this growth. However, in areas where accessibility is concerned, these same technology groups tend to relegate technology-related functions to disability services offices. For example, disability services offices are providing most of the AT training to students, doing most of the captioning of their institutions' video resources, and purchasing the majority of AT with disability services budgets.
Similarly, only 25% or fewer of AT products across categories are networked, which would allow truly equivalent access to students in the computer lab and workstation of their choosing, the same flexibility that's available to students without disabilities. Some AT, especially products designed for users with specific learning disabilities, may also benefit a wider population, including students for whom English is a second language. Some AT products present technical and licensing complications with regard to their being deployed on a network for universal access, but the fact that several institutions have done so suggests that more institutions could be doing so.
As noted in the introduction, IT accessibility requires participation from a wide variety of constituents throughout higher education organizations. Since technology doesn't exist in a vacuum, accessibility solutions for that technology cannot exist in a vacuum either. Achieving accessibility requires close collaboration from many members of the institution’s community including (but not limited to) faculty, IT services, disability services, libraries, and students. While a great deal of work has been done at many institutions, the work is not complete; for many others, it has not yet even begun. But, whether an institution is gradually addressing accessibility in the areas defined in this research, or whether an institution is embarking on a new process, it must do so with the understanding that achieving full accessibility is a holistic goal that must be pursued by the entire university community.
- Asuncion, J., Draffan, E.A., Guinan, E., & Thompson, T. (2008). International comparison on accessible technology in higher education. ATHEN E-Journal, 4. Retrieved December, 2008 fromhttp://athenpro.org/node/120
- Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (2006). Basic Classification System. Retrieved October 23, 2008 from http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/classifications/index.asp?key=791
- Eduserv (n.d.). License Negotiation Services. Retrieved October 23, 2008 from http://www.eduserv.org.uk/chest.
- IMS Global Learning Consortium (2007). IMS GLC learning technology satisfaction and trends, North American higher education. Retrieved October 23, 2008 fromhttp://www.imsglobal.org/ltst/getpdf.cfm?DocName=IMS%20LTTrends%20Feb07-public.pdf [PDF] .
- Green, K. (2006). The Campus Computing Survey. Retrieved October 23, 2008 from http://www.campuscomputing.net/survey
- North Carolina State University (2001).Assistive technology in higher education survey report. Retrieved October 23, 2008 from http://www.ncsu.edu/it/dss/survey_report.html
- Salaway, G. and Nelson, M. (2007). Student use of IT in courses. In The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2007. Retrieved October 23, 2008 fromhttp://connect.educause.edu/Library/ECAR/TheECARStudyofUndergradua/45075
- Thompson (2004). 2004 Survey on access technology in higher education. Retrieved October 23, 2008 from http://staff.washington.edu/tft/athen/index.html
- Thompson (2005). Information technology accessibility in higher education: Research and promising practices. EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) Research Bulletin, 2005 (12). Retrieved October 23, 2008 from http://connect.educause.edu/Library/ECAR/InformationTechnologyAcce/40119
- Thompson (2008). Careers in accessible technology in higher education: Salaries, qualifications, and responsibilities. ATHEN E-Journal, 4. Retrieved December, 2008 fromhttp://www.athenpro.org/node/122
- United States Census Bureau.(n.d.) Census Bureau regions and divisions with state FIPS codes. Retrieved October 23, 2008 from http://www.census.gov/geo/www/reg_div.txt
This article was funded in part by the National Science Foundation (Cooperative Agreement #HRD-0227995). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.