OFFICE OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY
Putting the DCL’s Principles Into Practice
- What questions should a school ask in determining whether emerging technology is accessible, or can be made accessible, to students with disabilities?
A: Schools should begin by considering accessibility issues up front, when they are deciding whether to create or acquire emerging technology and when they are planning how the technology will be used. To that end, schools should include accessibility requirements and analyses as part of their acquisition procedures. Schools should keep in mind their obligation to ensure that students with disabilities receive the benefits of the educational program in an equally effective and equally integrated manner. Among the questions a school should ask are:
- What educational opportunities and benefits does the school
provide through the use of the technology?
- How will the technology provide these opportunities and benefits?
- Does the technology exist in a format that
is accessible to individuals with disabilities?
- If the technology is not accessible, can it be modified (see Question 11 below about additional questions related to modifications), or is there a different technological device available, so that students with disabilities can obtain the educational opportunities and benefits in a timely, equally effective, and equally integrated manner?
Example: A school intends to establish a Web mail system so that students can: communicate with each other and with faculty and staff; receive important messages from the school (e.g., a message about a health or safety concern); and communicate with individuals outside the school. The school must ensure that the educational benefits, services, and opportunities provided to students through a Web mail system are provided in an equally effective and equally integrated manner. Before deciding what system to purchase, the school should make an initial inquiry into whether the system is accessible to students who are blind or have low vision, e.g., whether the system is compatible with screen readers and whether it gives users the option of using large fonts. If a system is not accessible as designed, the school must take further action to determine whether an accessible product is available, or whether the inaccessible product can be modified so that it is accessible to students who are blind or have low vision.