Frequently asked questions
Q: What is electronic and information technology accessibility?
A: Electronic and information technology (EIT) accessibility, also known as digital accessibility, generally refers to software, hardware, digital content, and content standards that are used to provide and promote equal access to persons with disabilities. Please review the EIT accessibility footprint to see the full scope of electronic and information technology accessibility at Kent State University.
Q: Why is digital accessibility important?
A: Digital Accessibility is an important component of providing and promoting an equitable, welcoming and inclusive learning environment and is required by law and regulation. Accordingly, with the routine, extensive and increasing use of web assets, digital content and related materials in higher education, KSU strives to provide resources that are accessible to all individuals.
Q: What does it mean to “be accessible” in reference to digital content, software, and 3rd party services?
A: When referring to digital content, software, and 3rd party services, “accessible” simply means that the content, software, and services interact correctly with assistive technology. Assistive technology refers to software and hardware that provides individuals with disabilities equal access. Common examples of assistive technology include screen readers, text to speech software, magnification, closed-captioning, etc. Proper creation and formatting of digital content, proper programming of software, and proper adherence to accessibility standards for 3rd party content and services provide equal access to individuals with disabilities.
Q: Are other universities doing anything about digital accessibility?
A: Yes, institutions within the state of Ohio as well as across the nation are actively working on various digital/EIT accessibility initiatives. Ohio institutions such as Miami University, the University of Cincinnati and Youngstown State University have adopted EIT policies, enhanced their websites, hired additional staff and modified training and development to focus on digital accessibility. Similar work is taking place across the nation at institutions such as The University of Montana, the University of Colorado, the University of New Hampshire, Portland Community College, Penn State and Louisiana Tech.
Q: What specific law(s) inform digital accessibility?
A: At Kent State University, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. Section 794, and its implementing regulation at 34 C.F.R. Part 104, and the Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. Section 12131 et seq., and its implementing regulation at 28 C.F.R. Part 35 inform our efforts in EIT accessibility. Additionally, Kent State University looks to Section 508 (29 U.S.C. § 794(d)) for guidance and best practice in regard to EIT accessibility. Section 508 mandates that electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities.
Q: Who can I contact if I have questions or need more information about digital accessibility
A: Please contact Jason Piatt, Electronic and Information Technology Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What is the University policy regarding digital accessibility/electronic and information technology accessibility?
A: The university policy regarding Digital Accessibility or electronic and information technology accessibility (known colloquially as the EIT policy) is a key part of Kent State University’s long-standing commitment to provide and promote an inclusive and welcoming environment. The policy has three key functions:
Formally establishes good-faith efforts to meet legal requirements for electronic and information technology (EIT) accessibility
Outlines clear expectations/scope of electronic and information technology (EIT) accessibility across the university system
Operationalizes processes to promote, coordinate and support electronic and information technology (EIT) accessibility initiatives
Q: Where can I read the university policy regarding electronic and information technology accessibility?
A: View the EIT accessibility policy at the policy register site
Q: Whom does the digital/EIT accessibility policy impact?
A: The policy applies to all staff, faculty, and third parties providing EIT to or on behalf of the university.
Q: When did the policy go into effect?
A: The EIT accessibility policy went into effect May 1, 2017
Q: With the policy in effect, what is required to be made accessible and what deadlines should be followed?
A: Although EIT accessibility across KSU is being implemented via a phased-in approach, effective 5/1/17, staff and faculty should observe the following guidelines for accessibility of all EIT content:
- Newly created digital content should be made accessible (see question above on what it means for digital content to be “accessible”)
- Digital content undergoing total revision or extensive maintenance should be made accessible (see question above on what it means for digital content to be “accessible”)
- Newly created online and face-to-face courses should be developed with accessible digital content
- Online and face-to-face courses with digital content undergoing total revision or extensive maintenance should be remediated with accessible digital content
- Existing digital content, created before the policy was adopted, should be made accessible as time, support, and funding exist
Q: Does this policy change the academic accommodation processes/support already provided via Student Accessibility Services?
A: No, the process for students to request accommodations and the work that SAS does with faculty to help make courses accessible in the event of an academic accommodation remains in place and will not change. This policy is part of a broader effort to enhance EIT accessibility across all university systems.
Q: Who can I contact if I have questions or need more information about the EIT policy?
A: Please contact Jason Piatt, Electronic and Information Technology Manager via email, email@example.com.
Q: It sounds like this policy only applies to online courses. If I teach a face-to-face course, do I have to follow this policy?
A: Yes, the policy applies to any course (face-to-face or online) that has EIT components (such as digital content, videos, multimedia, etc.). In fact, many face-to-face courses use a variety of digital course materials and therefore it is best practice and good course design to make sure these materials are accessible.
Q: What resources and support are available for creation and remediation of digital content?
A: Learn more about resources for digital accessibility. Faculty can also contact Jason Piatt, Electronic and Information Technology Manager via email, firstname.lastname@example.org for all questions related to digital accessibility. In addition, faculty and instructors can contact their local support staff (Educational Technology Designers, Instructions Designers) to learn more about how to meet EIT accessibility standards and make course materials accessible.
Q: What is the best way to find out if the publisher content I want to use in my courses is accessible?
A: The first step is knowing the right questions to ask! Please consult the EIT Accessibility and Third Party Content page for more details.
Q: Is there someone I can contact for a one-on-one consultation regarding digital accessibility?
A: Yes, faculty and staff can submit a request for a digital accessibility consultation by completing the Digital Accessibility Consultation Request Form.
Q: Is there any training and development available for faculty who wish to learn more about EIT accessibility?
A: Yes, please view training and development opportunities on topics like EIT accessibility, technology, and online course development provided by Student Accessibility Services, the Office of Continuing and Distance Education, Information Services and University Communications and Marketing (web team).
Q: Do I have to follow the policy even if there are no students in my class(es) that have received an accommodation?
A: The U.S. Department of Justice has suggested that it is the institution's responsibility to proactively ensure that required modifications are made once it is on notice of a student’s needs. Accordingly, the student should not need to first attempt to access resources before the university is required to provide accessible content. Staff, faculty and third parties providing EIT content to or on behalf of the university should ensure that digital content is made accessible when created or distributed.
Q: Has the policy changed procurement processes for bidding?
A: Yes, Student Accessibility Services, General Counsel and Procurement have collaborated to modify the Request for Proposals (RFP) process to include language about the policy and digital accessibility. Vendors wishing to bid on products and services with EIT components must complete an online questionnaire about the EIT accessibility of their product/service and submit a completed Voluntary Product Accessibility Template® (VPAT®). The VPAT® was created by the Information Technology Industry Council.
Q: So, the policy has slightly changed the RFP process, but do purchases under bidding thresholds ($25,000 for goods and $50,000 for services) need to adhere to the policy?
A: Yes, purchases of EIT accessibility products and services purchased without competitive bidding must adhere to the policy and the University’s EIT accessibility implementation procedures. In order to comply with federal law and 4-16 University policy regarding electronic and information technology accessibility, all Kent State University faculty and staff who wish to procure 3rd party EIT products and/or services should have the potential vendor complete an online questionnaire about the EIT accessibility of their product/service.
Q: Should all EIT products and/or services be evaluated before purchase and before contracts are signed?
A: Yes, in order to comply with federal law and 4-16 University policy regarding electronic and information technology accessibility, 3rd party EIT products and/or services should be evaluated to determine if it meets EIT accessibility compliance standards. This evaluation should be done prior to purchase and before any new contracts are signed or before existing contracts are renewed.
Q: Are Kent State University staff required to follow the policy for purchases of work-related software (software used within an office or for a small group of staff members)?
A: Yes, all software purchased for use by Kent State University employees, whether used for the public or within an office/group setting should be evaluated to determine if it meets EIT accessibility compliance standards.