Accessibility

Our Commitment

STEPP is committed to ensuring accessibility of its website for people with disabilities. All of the pages on the STEPP website should conform to Section 508 standards. The STEPP website has been validated using the W3C Markup Validation Service and WAVE.

If you encounter any accessibility issues with our website, please leave us a question or comment.

Access Keys

Access keys have been established for keyboard accessibility of active elements on the STEPP website. For Windows, press ALT+access key; for Macintosh, press CONTROL+access key.

Visual Design

The STEPP website utilizes the following:

  • Cascading style sheets to control page elements. Style sheets can be turned off the page.
  • HTML, CSS and JavaScript are properly identified.
  • Relative font sizes; text is resizable.
  • Limited usage of tables. Tables are labeled when relevant.
  • Color is secondary to meaning.
  • Non-flickering screens.
  • Links have title attributes or descriptive targets. Links are written to make sense out of context. Link text is not duplicated (same text means same link).
  • Images have ALT attributes.
  • Contact information is available on every screen.
  • Text-only version.

Navigational Elements

The STEPP website utilizes a standard template with navigational elements as follows:

  • Pages are keyboard accessible using the tab key or Access keys as defined above.
  • Link titles are clear and concise and make sense when read out of context.
  • Horizontal navigation links are located at the top and bottom of each page.
  • Vertical navigation links are located at the right of each page.

Acronyms & Abbreviations

  • AAP, Association of American Publishers
  • ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act
  • AMAC, Alternative Media Access Center
  • AT, Assistive Technology
  • ATN, AccessText Network
  • BOR, Board of Regents
  • DoEd, Department of Education
  • DSP, Disability Service Provider
  • FAQ, Frequently Asked Question
  • FIPSE, Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education
  • RCLD, Regents Center for Learning Disorders
  • STEPP, STudent E-rent Pilot Project
  • USG, University System of Georgia

Definitions

  • Accessibility: Accessibility in this context refers to making standard printed text accessible for people with a print-related disability.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability or have a relationship or association with an individual with a disability. An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such impairment.
  • Assistive Technology (AT): AT is an umbrella term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities and also includes the process used in selecting, locating, and using them. AT promotes greater independence by enabling people to perform tasks that they were formerly unable to accomplish, or had great difficulty accomplishing, by providing enhancements to or changed methods of interacting with the technology needed to accomplish such tasks. Examples of AT include, text-to-speech software, eye tracking cursor control and speech recognition transcription tools.
  • DAISY: Digital Accessible Information System, or DAISY is a means of creating digital talking books for people who wish to hear-and navigate-written material presented in an audible format; many such listeners have "print disabilities," including blindness, impaired vision, dyslexia or other issues. Using DAISY, a talking book format is presented with enabled navigation within a sequential and hierarchical structure consisting of (marked-up) text synchronized with audio.
  • Learning Ally: Learning Ally (formerly Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic) is a national, nonprofit organization that provides accessible audio textbook library for individuals with visual and learning disabilities. Learning Ally is federally funded and membership driven. Primary textbook format is DAISY.
  • Learning Disability (LD): LD is a general term that refers to disorders manifested by significant difficulties in use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities. These disorders are intrinsic to the individual, presumed to be due to central nervous system dysfunction, and occur across the life span. Problems in self-regulatory behaviors, social perception, and social interaction may exist with learning disabilities but do not by themselves constitute a learning disability (National Joint Committee Definition).
  • Mobility Impairments: Include but are not limited to amputation, paralysis, Cerebral Palsy, stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, arthritis, and spinal cord injury. Mobility impairments range from lower body impairments, which may require use of canes, walkers, or wheelchairs, to upper body impairments which may include limited or no use of the upper extremities and hands. It is impossible to generalize about the functional abilities of students with mobility impairments due to the wide variety of types of disabilities and specific diagnoses. Mobility impairments can be permanent or temporary. Mobility impairments can impact students in several ways. Some students may take longer to get from one class to another, enter buildings, or maneuver in small spaces. Mobility impairment may impact, to varying degrees, a student's ability to manipulate objects, turn pages, write with a pen or pencil, type at a keyboard, and/or retrieve research materials. A student's physical abilities may also vary from day to day.
  • Print-Related Disability: A print-related disability can be a learning disability, a visual impairment or a physical disability. Although the manners in which the disability occurs are very different, they all share one characteristic: individuals diagnosed with a print disability cannot access print in the standard way.
  • Remediated eTextbook: A remediated eTextbook refers to the conversion of an electronic file into a form that is best suited for access by users with print-related disabilities.
  • Screen Reader: A screen reader is a software application that attempts to identify and interpret what is being displayed on the screen (or, more accurately, sent to standard output, whether a video monitor is present or not). This interpretation is then re-presented to the user with text-to-speech, sound icons, or a Braille output device. Screen readers are a form of assistive technology (AT) potentially useful to people who are blind, visually impaired, illiterate or learning disabled, often in combination with other AT, such as screen magnifiers. For additional information review the WebAim Screen Reader Survey at http://webaim.org/projects/screenreadersurvey/.
  • Section 504 of the ADA: Section 504 prohibits discrimination based upon disability. Section 504 is an anti-discrimination, civil rights statute that requires the needs of students with disabilities to be met as adequately as the needs of the non-disabled are met. To be covered under Section 504, a student must be "qualified" (which roughly equates to being between 3 and 22 years of age, depending on the program, as well as state and federal law, and must have a disability).
  • Section 508 of the ADA: In 1998, the U.S. Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology.
  • Universal Design (UD): Designing any product or environment involves the consideration of many factors, including aesthetics, engineering options, environmental issues, industry standards, safety concerns, and cost. Typically, products and environments are designed for the average user. In contrast, UD is "the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design" (http://www.design.ncsu.edu/cud/about_ud/about_ud.htm).
  • U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973:The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by Federal agencies, in programs receiving Federal financial assistance, in Federal employment, and in the employment practices of Federal contractors.
  • Visual Impairment (VI): Visual impairment (or vision impairment) is vision loss (of a person) to such a degree as to qualify as an additional support need through a significant limitation of visual capability resulting from either disease, trauma, or congenital or degenerative conditions that cannot be corrected by conventional means, such as refractive correction, medication, or surgery.
  • VPAT: Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) is a standardized form that is filled out by a producer of a product (e.g., CourseSmart) that describes the features of the product that fulfill the needs of people with disabilities.
  • W3C: The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community where member organizations and the public work together to develop Web accessibility standards. W3C's primary activity is to developing protocols and guidelines that ensure long-term growth for the Web. W3C's standards define key parts of what makes the World Wide Web work (http://trace.wisc.edu/world/web/index.html).

Disability, Accessibility, and Accommodations Q&A

Q. I'm a student with a disability and require accommodation. How can I ensure that my accommodation needs are met?

A. Most public colleges and universities have a disability services office which works with students to ensure reasonable accommodations are provided. To locate this office, you can contact the Admission Office and ask, "Does your college or university have an office which provides accommodations to students with disabilities?" and they should direct you to the appropriate office or department.

Q. What kind of services are available for students with disabilities at postsecondary institutions?

A. Qualified interpreters, assistive listening systems, captioning, qualified readers, audio recordings, taped texts, braille materials, large print materials, electronic accessible materials, and adapted computer application are some examples of auxiliary aids and services that provide effective accommodations. Such services must be provided unless doing so would result in a fundamental alteration of the program or would result in undue financial or administrative burdens. Public entities must give primary consideration to the individual with a disability's preferred form of accommodations unless it can be demonstrated that another equally effective means of accommodations exists. Appropriate accommodations are discussed and agreed upon between the student and the disability services office. All accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis.

Q. How do postsecondary institutions modify their policies, practices or procedures to make programs accessible?

A. The most challenging aspect of modifying classroom policies, practices procedures for students with disabilities is that it requires thought and some prior preparation. The difficulty lies in the need to anticipate accommodations and be prepared in advance. The actual modifications themselves are rarely substantive or expensive. Some examples are rescheduling classes to an accessible location; early enrollment options for students with disabilities to allow time to arrange accommodations; substitution of specific courses required for completion of degree requirements; allowing service animals in the classroom; providing students with disabilities with a syllabus prior to the beginning of class; clearly communicating course requirements, assignments, due dates, grading criteria both orally and in written form; providing written outlines or summaries of class lectures, or integrating this information into comments at the beginning and end of class; and allowing students to use notetakers or tape record lectures. Modifications will always vary based on the individual student's needs.

Q. Can a postsecondary institution charge me for the cost of providing an accommodation?

A. No.

Q. Are students with disabilities required to disclose their disability?

A. If you do not require any accommodations, you can choose to keep this information private. If you do need accommodations because of your disability, however, you must disclose in order to receive them. An institution cannot provide any service, modification or accommodation when it does not know one is required.

Q. What should I do if my instructor refuses or neglects to make the accommodations I requested?

A. Sometimes individual instructors are not familiar with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, or the purpose of accommodating students with disabilities. It is not unusual to encounter instructors who feel classroom or testing accommodations give students with disabilities an unfair advantage over other students. If a student's accommodation is refused or neglected by the instructor, the student should share this concern with the disability services office. In most cases, the professor is willing but unsure of how to implement an accommodation within his/her class and require some guidance and direction from disability services office personnel to do so. In some cases, a meeting is required between the student, the professor and disability services to ensure that the accommodation is functional, reasonable and appropriate.

Q. What are some of the considerations a student with a disability needs to consider?

A. Does the school have an office serving students with disabilities? Have they appointed an ADA/504 Coordinator? Do they have a grievance policy established? Have they published a notice of nondiscrimination? Have faculty received any disability awareness training? How does one request accommodations? Can you enroll in classes early to allow you a chance to locate your classroom, identify barriers and discuss accommodations with your instructors?

Q. How does a student with a print-related disability access an eTextbook?

A. Depending on the print-related disability, a student may use text to speech software which reads aloud the electronic text that appears on a computer screen or software that enlarges text on a screen to access an eTextbook.

Q. Does the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provide funding for students with disabilities?

A. No. The ADA is a civil rights law and does not provide any direct services or funding to students with disabilities.

Q. Where can I get more information on post-secondary education and disabilities?

A. Other organizations which publish helpful information on postsecondary education for students with disabilities are:

HEATH Resource Center
The George Washington University
2121 K Street, NW Suite 220
Washington, DC 20037
Voice/TTY: 202-973-0904 or Toll Free 1-800-544-3284
Fax: 202-973-0908
Web: http://www.heath.gwu.edu
E-mail: askheath@heath.gwu.edu


AHEAD
107 Commerce Center Drive, Suite 204
Huntersville, NC 28078 USA
Phone: (704) 947-7779
Fax: (704) 948-7779
Web: http://www.ahead.org
E-mail: AHEAD@ahead.org