Universal Access - Procurement
Cerritos College has a responsibility to provide equal access to information technology to all students, faculty and staff, regardless of an individual disability.
Vendor Provided Product & Service Compliance
When looking at product compliance the first resource is often a document based on the Information Technology Industry Council’s VPAT Template. A company’s software engineers should be familiar with and document product compliance in the VPAT format. The VPAT should clearly state how a product complies or does not. When looking for a web service, software package or application a vendor should have a link to the VPAT readily available. If a vendor does not know what a VPAT is they have probably not made the product accessible.
Voluntary Product Accessibility Template® (VPAT®)
The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template®, or VPAT®, is a tool used to document a product's conformance with the accessibility standards under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The purpose of the VPAT is to assist Federal contracting officials and other buyers in making preliminary assessments regarding the availability of commercial "Electronic and Information Technology" products and services with features that support accessibility.
Product accessibility cannot be focused on a single impairment or disability. The basic requirements are stated in Section 508. The information or service a product provides should be available in multiple modalities through appropriate programming that provides function or allows Assistive Technology to interface where needed so that an individual’s impairment or disability does not affect their use.
Some sources of information on making information available to all can be found at:
http://www.section508.gov/ The US government site for Section 508.
http://app.buyaccessible.gov/baw/Quick-Links/quicklink.jsp A link for vendors looking to create a VPAT using a Government Product Accessibility Template (GPAT).
http://www.w3.org/standards/webdesign/accessibility is the World-Wide-Web Consortiums site for web accessibility. It has a plethora of resources. This is the web standard for accessibility.
http://webaim.org/ for web accessibility information - crucial to your application.
They have a means to get in and consultant with you on requirements, functionality, needs, etc. and help you with documenting a VPAT for your products.
National Association of the Deaf, a synopsis of captioning, why and how.
For example: If a program or service does not have a process for adding/ requiring captions for the deaf and hard-of hearing. Using slide notes to attempt to give the effect of captions to a slide, would not be adequate.
When considering a new product understand that the content author also bears responsibility for creating accessible content. The content author must state – in effect read and possibly describe a slide or scene lest the information not vocalized be lost to a visually impaired user. If the content author adds audio material not in the slide or caption then a hearing impaired user receives a different presentation of the material.
At Cerritos College, we use a variety of Assistive Technology to aid our students, faculty or staff. We can use AiSquared's ZoomText or Freedoms Scientific's MAGIC for persons with vision impairments, we can use Freedom Scientifics JAWS or AiSquared's Windows Eyes as screen readers for blind users. We use Kurzweil 3000 for students with cognitive and learning disabilities. NVDA is a freeware download screen reader that some users are forced to use by economic circumstance. Most AT software is available in a trial version that would allow a vendor to see how their product performs.
While there are many technology aides available, most of these programs require that programmers begin by following the guidelines established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 explain how to make web accessible information technology available to people with disabilities.
The primary goal of these guidelines is to promote accessibility; however, following the guidelines will also make information more available to allusers, whatever user agent they are using (e.g., desktop browser, voice browser, mobile phone, automobile-based personal computer, etc.) or constraints they may be operating under (e.g., noisy surroundings, under- or over-illuminated rooms, in a hands-free environment, etc.). These guidelines do not discourage developers and programmers from using images, video, etc., but rather explain how to make content accessible to a wider audience.