Frequently Asked Questions
Welcome to the Accessibility Networks FAQ page. If you are new to accessibility, or have a specific question you would like answered, here is where you’ll find answers to some of our most frequently asked questions!
Accessibility generally refers to the “Equity of Access.” Disabled people have the civil right to access the same opportunities as people without disabilities. Electronic Accessibility extends this concept to information and communication technology. If you want to learn more about accessibility and electronic accessibility, visit the Accessibility Network’s Accessibility 101 page.
The Accessibility Network is a cross functional team of accessibility subject matter experts and technical experts from across campus that work towards and advocate greater electronic accessibility at UC. The Accessibility Network’s About Us page is a great place to start for more information on the Accessibility Network and how we came to be.
The accessibility of electronic and information technology (EIT) to all people, regardless of disability type or severity of impairment. In general, to be accessible, software must follow the four P.O.U.R. principles: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust.
Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) is defined within UC’s EIT Accessibility Policy as: technology resources, software, applications, and services used by the university to make information and content available to faculty, staff, students, prospective students, guests, and visitors. EIT resources include, but are not limited to, the university’s websites, online learning (or eLearning) environment, and course management systems.
Accessibility Resources’ Academic Accommodations and Faculty Responsibility page may have the answers you are looking for. If you have a more specific question please reach out to Accessibility Resources directly (Accessresources@ucmail.uc.edu).
Canvas & Ally
The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CET&L) has a wealth of resources available to faculty for Canvas. CET&L’s Preventing and Fixing Accessibility Issues in Canvas guide should answer your questions about creating accessible content in Canvas.
Canvas offers several options to check the accessibility of content you’ve uploaded or created. If you’ve created content directly in the Rich Text Editor, you can use the Canvas Accessibility Checker. If you are uploading documents, you can use Ally to assess the accessibility of your content and receive direct feedback for ways to increase the accessibility of the content.
Purchasing & Third Party Products
All software used at UC needs to be evaluated for accessibility. Many applications and software have been evaluated for accessibility already, but when in doubt you should submit a request to have your software reviewed for accessibility. The Accessibility Network’s Procurement page contains all the information you need to determine if your new software will be accessible to the UC community.
As the person requesting the technology to be purchased or renewed, you are responsible for communicating with the person you are purchasing your technology from (vendor) to ensure the product is accessible. The Accessibility Network is available for guidance, resources and trainings.
If you are selecting an EIT product, start by reviewing the EIT Purchases & Accessibility Procedures or follow these basics:
- Make accessibility a part of your selection criteria.
- Follow the accessibility checklist for software/applications to check the product’s basic eAccessibility.
- Ask the vendor about their accessibility commitment or policy. Ask them to provide you with a VPAT and the contact information for the person responsible for accessibility.
- Include accessibility language in your RFP, contracts, etc.
- Request an accessibility review from the Accessibility Network.
- Work with the Accessibility Network and your vendor to build an access plan if the completed review determines there are accessibility barriers within the product.
In non-technical terms: A VPAT is a written document detailing how a product incorporates accessibility standards. The Accessibility Network uses this document as a starting point in assessing the EIT product for accessibility.
Download the current VPAT™ template from the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) website.
In technical terms: A Voluntary Product Accessibility Template® (VPAT) is a document voluntarily provided by a vendor. The document includes a table containing information regarding how their information and communications technology product or service conforms with Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. It does not confirm or guarantee the accessibility of a product.
The VPAT is a vendor document communicating their product’s conformance to accessibility laws. The Accessibility Network can use this document as a starting point in assessing the technology for accessibility. Having a VPAT on file also provides an accessibility audit trail.
As a public university, we are required to follow Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act. The law (29 U.S.C. § 794 (d)) applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology.
When selecting your EIT product or working with your technology vendor, ask them about their accessibility commitment. You can use the following sample email to get started.
As we assess your technology as a solution for the university, we would like to understand your commitment to accessibility. Please provide a copy of your VPAT or ACR (Accessibility Conformance Report) to be submitted to our Accessibility Network for review. Be sure to include the contact information of the person responsible for accessibility within your organization.
The University of Cincinnati is committed to providing an electronic experience that is accessible to all and supports success for every student and employee, especially those with disabilities. The university does this in accordance with Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. The law (29 U.S.C § 794 (d)) applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology.
Once you have a VPAT from your vendor submit a request for an accessibility review from the Accessibility Network.
The Accessibility Network will review your VPAT and do a risk assessment. Based on those outcomes, you will receive a communication with next steps.
Typically, no. However, it is the policy of the University of Cincinnati in accordance with Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, to procure technology that is accessible.
It is best to start this process as early as possible. In situations where deadlines are tight, please communicate this when submitting your request. The Accessibility Network will make every effort to work with you.
For questions regarding accessibility when purchasing/renewing technology, start with your purchasing contact within your college or department. If you need further assistance, please contact the Accessibility Network.
Web and Social Media
Yes! Websites are a means of communicating information, and must be accessible to everyone. For more information about making your website accessible, visit the Accessibility Network’s Web Accessibility page.
Documents, Course Syllabus & Videos
Great! The Accessibility Network has a number or resources and tutorials available for captioning your media content. Visit the Accessibility Network’s Video and Media [DJ1] page for more information on captioning your content.