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Library Accessibility

Introduction

To make sure our campus creates a culture of accessibility and provides equal access, it is important to keep in mind the different learning styles of students and the backgrounds from which they come.  While not all students need official accommodations, we do have students that have a variety of situations for which accessibility would aid students in study and success at GC and improve retention. 

The Academic Success Center, specifically, is tasked with providing accommodations for students with disabilities and providing "equal access".  It is up to the ASC and the faculty to work together to ensure that students who have requested accommodations have equal access to all course materials. This section goes over some important information and resources to continue our work in providing both equitable and equal access. 

For questions about accommodations and equal access, please email Judy Weaver at jweaver@goshen.edu
For questions about accessibility online/technology and equitable access, email Kelsey McLane at kmclane@goshen.edu

Culture of Accessibility

I can help you!

Kelsey McLane is the Library Service Specialist working with the Good Library, Academic Success Center, and Educational Technology.  She can be available for a number of things to help with your accessibility:

  • getting digital reading materials to work with a screen reader
  • finding audiobooks for required texts (and others)
  • training on accessibility features on the iPad and other devices
  • Moodle help
  • advocating on your behalf

Get started with some great apps and programs!

Ten Tips For Students with Disabilities...From Students with Disabilities

  1. Disability accommodations are rights, not special help: Ask for what you need. Advocate for yourself
  2. You are an important and valuable part of campus diversity: Diversity includes disability
  3. College disability services offices can be gatekeepers: Most are good allies for students, some are not. Demand professional, individualized, respectful services and file a complaint if you don't get them.
  4. Feed your soul and body: Balance your valuable time, energy, and health.
  5. Stay focused on your career: If it won't help you get a job or maintain your passion for college, don't bother.
  6. Find a community: Never go it alone. Consider connecting with others who have disabilities
  7. Universally design your own learning: Learn how you learn best, and then use your strengths and unique learning style
  8. Never apologize for your disability or accommodations: If you apologize, people may think you are ashamed.
  9. Fight oppression and bullying in any form: Ableism is just one "ism." If one of us is oppressed, we're all oppressed.
  10. Learn disability history: Learn about the people and the movements that made it possible for you to be in college

References

McMaster, C., & Whitburn, B. (2019). Disability and the University: A Disabled Students' Manifesto. Peter Lang Publishing Group.

Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know your rights and responsibilities.  From the Office for Civil Rights

Our Obligation to You:

Students With Disabilities: Our goal is to create an accessible and inclusive learning environment for all students with disabilities.  We work to create partnerships between students, faculty and staff so you can participate fully in a rich and satisfying college career.

The Academic Success Center (ASC) at Goshen College provides accommodations for students with special needs.  Students facing the challenges of physical, sensory, psychological, or learning disabilities must provide documentation to the ASC director prior to receiving services.  

 

Equitable Access:  Whether a student has a disability or not, they are entitled to fair access to their education.  This refers to the notion that every student in any classroom in America should have the same opportunity as any other student for being taught.  This means that we will strive to provide assistance and resources to all students on campus to succeed in their higher education.  For more information, get in touch with Kelsey McLane at the Good Library or via email at kmclane@goshen.edu

Student Requirements:

Any student that needs help with equitable access should feel comfortable getting in touch with Kelsey McLane at kmclane@goshen.edu in order to identify resources and services available to help you succeed.  Some options for a little extra help include:

  • writing help/tutoring
  • captioning
  • iPad tutorials
  • screen readers/text to speech capabilities
  • database research help
  • Moodle help

Any student that has a disability or is interested in beginning the process to document a disability should get in touch with the Academic Success Center in order to begin the process of assessing a disability and assigning accommodations.  You can email Judy Weaver at jweaver@goshen.edu for more information.

You can also visit our website for Disability Services: https://www.goshen.edu/campuslife/asc/disabilities/ or 

https://www.goshen.edu/campuslife/asc/disabilities-services/

Student Testimony:

*coming soon

I can help you!

Kelsey McLane is the Library Service Specialist working with the Good Library, Academic Success Center, and Educational Technology.  She can be available for a number of things to help with your accessibility:

  • training on Universal Design
  • making PDFs accessible
  • captioning
  • audiobook selections to match your required texts
  • Moodle accommodations (time/attempts on tests)

Ways to Contribute:

We would love for all faculty to immediately jump on the Universal Design bandwagon to make sure that all course materials meet this guidelines and WCAG 2.1 standards.  Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Use the different tabs on this Library Guide to begin/continue making course materials accessible
  • Use the "Accessibility Checker" for all Microsoft and Google documents/powerpoints/excel spreadsheets
  • Send videos/clips to Kelsey for captioning
  • Avoid PDFs whenever possible
  • Instead of scanning book pages and uploading, search for the digital book/article through the library databases (these should all automatically be accessible)
  • Having trouble finding what you need? Contact Kelsey McLane at kmclane@goshen.edu

Working with students:

At the beginning of each semester, if you have a student with a disability and a documented accommodation, you will receive a letter from the Academic Success Center.  If you have any questions about this letter, please make sure to reach out.

If you are aware you have any students that commute, are simultaneously raising a family, speak English as a second language, or may have some other circumstance that may affect their learning, please feel free to reach out to them to see if there are any resources or services that might aid them in their education.  If they have any requests, they (or you) can also reach out to Kelsey McLane at kmclane@goshen.edu.  Kelsey will be able to identify some ways to help students with unofficial accommodations when possible.

Make sure to continually check in with these students, and as always, use the early alert system for any concerns.

Faculty Experience:

*coming soon

Student Testimonies (Taken from the National Federation for the Blind)

My most recent encounter with inaccessible educational technology occurred when I took an introductory microeconomics course last semester. The weekly problem sets for the class were to be completed on a website called Aplia, and I discovered that assignments on this site cannot be read at all using screen reading software. I was therefore unable to complete these assignments independently, and had to rely on a human reader to recite the questions and enter my responses. Although I was able to complete the homework with the help of this assistant, I believe that not being able to do so on my own had a negative impact on my learning experience and potential. I often felt rushed while answering questions with a reader present, not wanting to take too much of their time. I also could not simply go back to the problem sets and study them at any time for an exam, as my fellow students were able to do ... It is critical for students with print disabilities to have the same opportunities to succeed academically and achieve their goals as non-disabled students. Currently, inaccessible educational technology is so pervasive that this kind of equality is not entirely possible, as so many academic resources are not available to us. — Kyra, California

I have had routine difficulties independently completing such necessary tasks as registering for classes, accessing online readings, filling out course evaluations, viewing my grades, communicating with various campus offices, reachable only through inaccessible online forms, etc., etc. (the list could go on for pages). I was once, as an undergraduate, initially informed I would not be eligible for a position as a tutor at my school's writing center solely, I was told, because the web interface the center used had not been made accessible. — Lucy, California

I have found many of my electronic readings to be poorly tagged in .pdf files that a text to speech screen-reading program cannot decipher. Instead of having access equal to that of my peers to course readings, the disability student services office has to convert the documents into text files and I have to wait to have access to the materials. This system is inefficient and it leaves me at a disadvantage to my classmates. This is one of many examples of access barriers I have encountered due to inaccessible technology. And stories like mine are all too common among blind college and graduate students. Why are blind students not receiving equal access to all aspects of education? It isn’t because accessibility is difficult or expensive to achieve. And it isn’t because universities are maliciously discriminating against blind students. It is simply because schools, for the most part, don’t really understand what accessibility looks like. And, therefore, the schools do not know what accessibility features to demand from those who create the technologies they purchase and use. — Sean, Massachusetts

Throughout my time in college, technology has begun to play a more significant role in higher education. Now, some of the classes I am required to take for my major are mixed medium classes, meaning we meet once a week in a physical classroom and do the rest of the work online. This usually involves listening to lectures, or watching videos recorded by our teachers. Unfortunately, the video/audio player adopted by my university is inaccessible to me as a blind student. When I click on the link to access my lecture, I am taken to a page that my screen reader describes as blank. I cannot access the buttons to play the media file, let alone jump around in it to access different parts of the material. This means that I am at a severe disadvantage in comparison to my sighted classmates. — Karen, Nebraska

I didn’t even take my math placement exam because it was not accessible, so I was forced to start with college algebra rather than potentially calculus. Therefore, majors with more than that as a requirement for me went right out of the window because I could not conceive success without braille or accessible web tools that described the content. — Cindy, Washington

The problem is not the fact that I am blind.The problem is the fact that inaccessible technology is woven into the fabric of the collegiate academic experience at many institutions.Nobody wants the technology to be inaccessible, but no one has guidelines on how to ensure that I can be welcome in higher education. Well-meaning institutions can and do go awry without these guidelines. — Justin, Louisiana

When you think of your college days, a variety of thoughts probably come to mind: dining hall food, late night studying, having fun with your friends, cramming for tests, and participating in activities that you found interesting. Many blind students have these memories as well, but they are tarnished with the memories of figuring out how to navigate a website that is not compatible with a screen reader, the anxiety of falling behind in class because reading materials are inaccessible, and the embarrassment of asking a friend or classmate for assistance navigating these issues.Think of how your recollection would change if you had to tackle these challenges on top of the daily stresses that every college student faces (such as how to pay for school, develop study techniques, maintain good relationships with friends etc.).I'm not saying that college is unbearable for blind students, but I am saying that we are currently at a disadvantage in the classroom. — Lizzy, Pennsylvania

 

Requirements and Standards

(Taken from NFB)

While Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act require colleges and universities to provide students with disabilities equal and integrated access to their programs, benefits, and services, it is the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA, and Section 508 of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Final Standards and Guidelines that provide technical guidance for web-based information. WCAG 2.0 AA has been accepted throughout the web industry and is used by the US Department of Justice within settlement agreements as providing for full and equal access in accordance with federal law. Other accessibility standards include:

  • UAAG 1.0 for web browsers, media players, and assistive technologies;
  • ATAG 2.0 for software used to create web content;
  • MathML 3.0 specifications for digital mathematical and scientific notation;
  • WAI-ARIA 1.0 for web content;
  • WCAG21CT for non-web software and content;
  • ICT Final Standards and Guidelines. In addition to websites, the ICT Section 508 Standards apply to electronic and information technology procured by the federal government, including computer hardware and software, multimedia such as video, phone systems, and copiers. The ICT Section 255 Guidelines address access to telecommunications products and services, and apply to manufacturers of telecommunication equipment.
  • DAISY for digital publications and documents;
  • EPUB3 for digital publications and documents;
  • EPUB Accessibility 1.0 for digital publications and documents;
  • BANA Guidelines and Standards for Tactile Graphics (2010); and
  • Guidelines for the Production of Braille Materials through the use of Braille Production Software (2007).

Legal Action

When self-advocacy and dispute resolution on campus fail to provide accommodations and equal access, blind students may be faced with no other option but to file a complaint with the United States Departments of Education or Justice, or to file a complaint in federal court. This is not an easy path for students, but it is an important one.

Key legal actions have helped to shape the definition of equal access on campus. The following complaints, agreements, and consent decrees, some with involvement of the United States Department of Education, document in very specific terms what equal access means for blind students and how it should be implemented on campus.

Student Orientation:

Does your campus new student orientation include a presentation on the resources available to students with disabilities, including:

  • The functions of the institution’s ADA coordinator and disability support services office;

  • An overview of the accessible technology policy;

  • The process for requesting accommodations; and

  • The grievance policy and process pertaining to disability-related issues?

Accessible Technology Policy

  • Does your campus have an accessible technology policy in place?
  • Is your accessible technology policy distributed to all instructional and administrative employees, instructional and administrative contractors, and instructional and administrative volunteers who are responsible for the procurement or provision of technology?
  • Is it posted publically on your school’s website and intranet?
  • Does your policy incorporate or refer to procedures for providing students with disabilities with timely access to accessible course materials in electronic and hard copy formats?
  • Does your policy designate an Accessibility Coordinator with campus-wide oversight? Does the Accessibility Coordinator report to the President or a member of the President’s executive team?
  • Does your policy require the Accessibility Coordinator to be knowledgeable about the accessibility and usability of web content and technology (including technology commonly used in the classroom and laboratories), testing and evaluation of the accessibility of web and other technologies, and the accessibility standards listed above in Requirements and Standards? Does your policy also require the Accessibility Coordinator to be familiar with accessible document development and remediation, and the appropriate provision of non-electronic or non-digital formats, such as hard copy Braille, tactile graphics, and sign language interpreters?
  • Does your policy permit reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures, such as procuring technologies outside of general policies and making reasonable security exceptions for assistive technologies?
  • Are staff and faculty responsible for knowing and adhering to these policies?

*From the National Federation of the Blind

Grievance Procedure

  • Does your school have a grievance procedure for disability discrimination complaints? Is the procedure posted in an accessible format and in an easy-to-find location on your school’s website?
  • Does your school’s grievance procedure identify who is responsible for conducting grievance investigations and does it include a timeline within which investigations and determinations must be completed?
  • Does it include a fair and timely appeal process?
  • If the grievance procedure requires students to complete a complaint form, has the form been tested for accessibility when used with screen access software?

*From the National Federation of the Blind

Procurement of Technology

Exemplar procurement language from Ohio State University and other schools is available at the National Federation of the Blind Higher Education Accessibility Online Resource Center.

  • Does your campus have centralized procurement language that advises vendors of your institution’s requirement to procure EIT that complies with the applicable accessibility standards listed above in Requirements and Standards?
  • Do your procurement procedures require vendors to warrant in writing that any technology provided is accessible?
  • Do your procurement procedures require vendors to provide results of accessibility testing and written documentation verifying accessibility, to promptly respond to and resolve accessibility complaints, and to indemnify and hold the institution harmless in the event of claims arising from inaccessibility?
  • Do your procurement procedures require vendors to provide log-in credentials to permit independent testing of EIT (such as learning management systems and instructional support applications) through automated, expert, and user-testing? Does your independent testing of EIT permit in-house staff or third party consultants to verify the claims of the VPAT and any available accessibility evaluations to determine the product’s conformance with WCAG 2.0 AA and its usability by students with disabilities?

*From the National Federation of the Blind

Legal Action

When self-advocacy and dispute resolution on campus fail to provide accommodations and equal access, blind students may be faced with no other option but to file a complaint with the United States Departments of Education or Justice, or to file a complaint in federal court. This is not an easy path for students, but it is an important one.

Key legal actions have helped to shape the definition of equal access on campus. The following complaints, agreements, and consent decrees, some with involvement of the United States Department of Education, document in very specific terms what equal access means for blind students and how it should be implemented on campus.

*From the National Federation of the Blind

Definitions

Subjects that are discussed with shared understanding are talked about and become enculturated. Does your campus use the following definitions within its policies, procedures, and daily conversation?

  • Accessible: Individuals with disabilities are able to independently acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services within the same timeframe as individuals without disabilities, with substantially equivalent ease of use.
  • Alternative Text: A textual description of non-text content.
  • Assistive Technology: Adaptive hardware and/or software and other devices that are used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. Examples include text-to-speech screen access software, screen magnification software, refreshable Braille display, tactile graphics, speech input software, head pointers, and wheelchairs.
  • Electronic and Information Technology (EIT): EIT includes information technology and any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment that is used in the creation, conversion, or duplication of data or information. The term electronic and information technology includes, but is not limited to, the internet and intranet websites, content delivered in digital format, electronic books and electronic book reading systems, search engines and databases, learning management systems, classroom technology and multimedia, personal response systems (clickers), and office equipment such as classroom podiums, copiers, and fax machines. It also includes any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment that is used in the automatic acquisition, creation, storage, manipulation, management, movement, control, display, switching, interchange, transmission, or reception of data or information. This term includes telecommunications products (such as telephones), information kiosks, automated teller machines (ATMs), transaction machines, computers, ancillary equipment, software, firmware and similar procedures, services (including support services), and related resources.
  • Instructional Support Applications: A software application, whether used in a single course, by a department, by a college or by a school, or university-wide, that a college or university makes available to students, and which is designed and dedicated to the purpose of collecting or delivering course content or assignments, or assessing student performance. An instructional support application is peripheral to a learning management system and is not necessarily used alongside a learning management system. Instructional support applications are either "non-standalone" because they contain supplementary digital content provided (either directly or through third parties) by the publishers of texts and book-length course materials, or "standalone'' because they do not contain such content. Examples of instructional support applications include: Turnitin, LearnSmart, MyStatLab, Vista Higher Learning, Sapling, and WebAssign.
  • Learning Management System (LMS): A software application, whether used in a single course, by a department, by a college or by a school, or university-wide, that a college or university makes available to students and uses to plan, create, administer, document, track, report, deliver, and maintain electronic educational courses and course content and assess student performance, ncluding by enabling collaboration and communication among members of the class and between the class and instructor; by supporting the assessment of learning outcomes; and by supporting formative and summative feedback to students.
  • Screen Access Software: Software programs that convert the text on a computer screen into synthesized speech and/or Braille. Examples include JAWS (Job Access with Speech), NVDA (Nonvisual Desktop Access), and Window-Eyes.
  • Tactile Graphics: Objects that use raised lines and surfaces to convey non-textual information such as maps, paintings, graphs, and diagrams.
  • Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT): The VPAT provides a standard format for vendors to use in reporting on the accessibility of their products.

*From the National Federation of the Blind

Training Questions

  • Does your campus have an accessible technology training program that addresses the requirements of the ADA, available resources for students and instructors on disability-related matters, and grievance procedures?

  • Is accessible technology training provided to:
    • Employees responsible for writing or publishing web content;
    • An academic technology specialist from each of your institution’s colleges, schools, and libraries;
    • Employees who provide support for educational technology, including LMSs, equipment, software, and applications;
    • Employees responsible for procurement of educational or digital technology;
    • Employees responsible for converting hard copy materials into electronic and alternate formats;
    • Professional-level employees in your institution’s disability support services office;
    • Employees responsible for ADA compliance;
    • Faculty and their administrative assistants;
    • Teaching assistants and student assistants for any course in which at least one student is enrolled who is registered with the disability support services office; and
    • Student assistants hired or retained to accommodate students?
  • As appropriate, does the accessible technology training include the following topics?
    • Your institution’s accessible technology policy;
    • Common assistive technologies and other aids and services used by individuals with disabilities to interact with computers, websites, equipment, and in learning inside and outside of the classroom;
    • Common technological accessibility barriers encountered by individuals with disabilities;
    • Common methods, resources, personnel, and time frames used to ensure that instructional materials, text books, and course equipment and devices are accessible;
    • Means by which one creates and provides accessible instructional materials in the classroom setting or by electronic delivery through course websites or email;
    • An overview of accepted accessibility standards;
    • Consideration of selecting course texts that have accessible electronic formats;
    • The process for requesting and receiving accommodations; and
    • Procedures on reporting to the disability support services office if a student reports to faculty or teaching assistants the existence of inaccessible course materials or technologies
  • Does your institution provide refresher accessible technology training on an annual basis?

*From the National Federation of the Blind

Accessible Technology Overview

Digital accessibility refers to the practice of designing electronic material so that it is usable by all people, including people with disabilities. It allows for information to be available visually, aurally, and tactilely. Most of the time, the term digital accessibility reflects the needs of those who use specially designed technology to complete tasks on a computer or mobile device. These devices and software are called access technology, and they provide for equality in education, employment, and other major life activities.

Students who are blind or have other print disabilities often use screen-reading software to verbalize or put into Braille what the sighted computer user sees. However, in order for screen-reading software to convert text into speech or Braille, the website, learning management system, or document must be created in accordance with standards and procedures that enable the software to function. If websites, learning management systems, and instructional materials are not created in accordance with accessibility standards, students who rely on the use of screen-readers will not be able to access or utilize the information they contain. 

*From the National Federation of the Blind

Legal Rights of Disabled Students

Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, colleges and universities are obligated to provide students with disabilities equal and integrated access to higher education. Schools cannot deny students with disabilities equally effective opportunity to participate in the programs, benefits, and services they offer. This means that classrooms, cafeterias, libraries, residence halls, computer labs, and all other campus spaces, including online courses, must be accessible.

In Authors Guild v. Hathi Trust, the Second Circuit ruled that the doctrine of fair use under the Copyright Act permits anyone to make an accessible digital copy of a copyrighted print book for a person with a print disability without the permission of the copyright owner. This ruling removes the need for schools to secure from copyright owners permission prior to reproduction and redistribution, and opens up to blind students the vast quantities of information that many college libraries contain.

Hamraie, A. (2016). Beyond Accommodation: Disability, Feminist Philosophy, and the Design of Everyday Academic Life. philoSOPHIA, 6(2), 259-271.

Miles, A.L., Nishida, A., & Forber-Pratt, A.J. (2017). An open letter to White disability studies and ableist institutions of higher education. Disability Studies Quarterly, 37(3).

Dunn, D.S., & Andrews, E.E. (2015). Person-first and identity-first language: Developing psychologists' cultural competence using disability language. American Psychologist, 70(3), 255