Accessibility Tips - Series #1
The Pacific ADA Center has produced an Accessible IT quick tip series to benefit educators by enhancing the learning experience of students in all schools. This is the first of twelve articles that will be published on a monthly basis, distributed by post and email, and archived on our web site: http://www.adapacific.org/ To request further materials or information on Accessible IT, please call us on our free Technical Assistance hotline at 1-800-949-4232 or use the contact form on our web site. We hope that you'll find this series valuable.
General Principles of Accessible I.T.
What is Information Technology (I.T.)?
I.T. includes, but is not limited to, telecommunications products such as telephones, information kiosks and transaction machines, World Wide Web sites, multimedia, and office equipment such as copiers and fax machines. PC hardware, software, operating systems and networks are also included. The design of some electronic and information technology makes it difficult or impossible for individuals with specific disabilities to use it effectively.
What is Assistive Technology (A.T.)?
Assistive Technology is a device or software that substitutes for or enhances the function of some impaired ability. AT includes screen readers, keyboards and single switches, and is sometimes referred to as Adaptive Technology.
What is Accessible Information Technology (Accessible I.T.)?
Accessible I.T. is technology that can be used by people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. It incorporates the principles of universal design, whereby each user is able to interact with the technology in ways that work best for him or her. Accessible I.T. is either directly accessible, in other words, it is usable without Assistive Technology, or it is compatible with standard AT.
How can the use of Accessible Information Technology (Accessible I.T.) be beneficial in an educational setting?
The use of Accessible I.T. helps assure that all students and staff can participate in and benefit from all educational and administrative activities that involve the use of technology. Below are a few examples:
- Accessible web pages allow students with disabilities, including those who have sensory impairments, to access information; share their work; communicate with peers, teachers, and mentors; and take advantage of distance learning options.
- Accessible instructional software on disks, CDs, or other media, enables students with disabilities to participate side-by-side with their peers in computer labs and classrooms as they complete assignments; collaborate with peers; create and view presentations, documents, and spreadsheets; and actively participate in simulations and all other academic activities.
- Accessible telecommunications and office equipment including faxes, copiers and TTY, make communication and educational administrative functions accessible to everyone, including those with mobility, visual, and hearing impairments.
These documents are available in alternate formats, on CD, in large print hard copy and on audiotape, by contacting the Pacific ADA Center. Please call us on our free Technical Assistance hotline at 1-800-949-4232 or use our contact form.