IT Accessibility

The University of Michigan is committed to supporting those with accessibility needs. There are several ongoing and project activities that are currently underway across the university to help improve accessibility to technology for students, faculty, and staff with disabilities. A sampling of these activities include:

  • The Assistive Tech department is funded and staffed within the Consumer Technology group of Information and Technology Services (ITS). This department helps provide assistive technology at Sites workstations and serves as an information resource for the entire school. At present, the department consists of the Assistive Tech Manager and a Screen Reader Specialist.

  • The university has a dedicated Web Accessibility Coordinator, Scott Williams from the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE), who works to provide students, faculty, and staff with support and advice on how to make websites accessible. Scott maintains the Web Accessibility at the U-M website to share techniques, tools, and advice about making websites accessible. He also sponsors the Web Accessibility Working Group (WAWG), which has monthly meetings and a supportive listserv.

  • U-M Council for Disability Concerns (CfDC) meets monthly to address disability issues affecting the University of Michigan community. CfDC also maintains an active listserv; please contact Scott Williams to be added.

  • Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) exists as a student advocacy agency and has many services for disabled students, including captioning of video, notetaking, and facilitating the loaning of adaptive equipment and materials.

  • The university has established the Adaptive Technology Computing Site (Knox Center) in the Shapiro Undergraduate Library. The site is open to students registered with SSD, and provides a quiet working environment with all the assistive technology available on other Sites machines plus some additional equipment.

  • ITS, in partnership with the university's Web Accessibility Coordinator, has established the ITS Accessible Applications Project. This project is a multi-year effort with the goals of making ITS-provided systems more accessible, as well as ensuring that ITS staff understand both the qualities that make an application accessible and their role in delivering accessible applications. The project team is exploring ways to share the lessons learned both within ITS and across the university.

  • U-M is part of the Big Ten Academic Alliance IT Accessibility Group, which promotes collaboration among the Big Ten universities. U-M is represented on that group by U-M’s VP/CIO; Jack Bernard, associate general counsel; and Jane Berliss-Vincent, Assistive Technology Manager.

This work, along with a history of advocacy by people such as Jim Knox and Jack Bernard, has positioned the university as a nationally recognized leader in regard to technology accessibility.

Additional information about Google Apps for Education accessibility barriers and alternative options is available.