The University of Oregon is committed to ensuring equal and effective access to electronic and information technology. The Accessible Technology Program (ATP) as part of the Accessible Education Center (AEC) actively promotes this access in several ways:
- Directly assists students with disabilities in using assistive technology.
- Manages Alternative Format Services
- Provides specialized consulting to web and electronic document producers.
- Advises the university on technology-related legal and compliance issues.
The program’s focus is on all aspects of access to technology for students with disabilities. Technology is extremely important to all college students, but is especially so for students with disabilities. Technology mitigates learning barriers and promotes academic success for students with disabilities.
The ATP manages a broad spectrum of responsibilities relating to accessible technology at the university. It supports current assistive technology and forecasts technology needs. It supports the university’s transition from inaccessible paper educational materials to accessible electronic versions.
Supporting Students with Disabilities
Students with disabilities use the Accessible Technology Program in resolving issues with their assistive technology (AT). Most students are fluent users of their personal technology, but occasional issues occur and the Accessible Technology Program can frequently facilitate resolutions and solve problems.
The ATP assists university public computing labs with installing and maintaining accessible technology for both short-term and long-term needs. It also maintains an optimized assistive technology lab that includes auxiliary aids that enhance the productivity of the assistive technology.
Providing Alternative Format Texts
Students, who are blind, have reduced vision, or have cognitive reading issues encounter barriers with printed text. Students who are blind may need text converted to e-text or formatted for Braille output. Students with low vision may need enlarged paper texts or computer documents formatted for screen enlargement. Students with cognitive reading issues use computer files configured for special technology that improves reading time and comprehension.
The ATP provides conversion of paper texts and inaccessible electronic texts into materials usable by students with reading disabilities. The process starts with paper texts that are cut, scanned and digitized into readable materials. The output ranges from searchable PDF files to Braille documents. Students who are approved for alternative format text as an accommodation will be referred to ATP by their advisor.
Advising Departments on Producing Accessible Information
Electronic communication has transformed the university into a high-volume publisher. University departments and organizations increasingly communicate with students electronically with PDF, Web, or other digital formats. These formats are not inherently accessible to people with disabilities, but with appropriate additional coding can become very accessible.
The ATP provides assistance in the creation of accessible digital communication. The Alternative Format Service can create accessible PDF files. Collaboration is available to campus web developers for creating accessible web sites. The ATP regularly presents a series of accessible-how-to workshops for document authors.
Technology Access Legal Issues
Access to technology for students with disabilities is more than a good idea; it is a legally mandated obligation of the University of Oregon. Lawsuits and/or complaints to the federal government against colleges and universities are monitored at the ATP. Relevant information is passed along to the appropriate university administrators.