As part of the California State University system’s ongoing commitment to serving individuals with disabilities, CSULB is moving forward with implementing the Accessible Technology Initiative (ATI).
An estimated one in five CSULB classes include a student with some type of disability, according to Wayne Dick, professor of computer engineering and computer science. These can include physical or mental disabilities, color blindness or conditions requiring medications that can affect concentration.
Under the leadership of Student Services Vice President Doug Robinson, the campus ATI Steering Committee and its various subcommittees meet monthly on key areas including Web-based information and services, instructional technology, accessible instructional material, and electronic and information technology procurement. Its goal is to develop policies and practices that ensure clarity, consistency and operational feasibility.
A key area is developing or revamping university Web pages to make them accessible to text reader technology. ATI subcommittees are developing processes by which Web pages are being reviewed through HiSoftware to catch initial programming errors, followed by a manual coding review. Incorrect codes can render certain Web page content unavailable to many individuals who have visual limitations, are deaf or hard of hearing, or require an alternative method of navigating a Web page.
Another focus is on encouraging faculty to order textbooks and other instructional materials early so that students who have difficulty using printed materials can acquire alternate versions in time for the beginning of a term. Only about 10 percent of textbooks are currently available in alternate formats, and it can take six weeks or more to convert a textbook into an electronic format that can then be transferred to an alternative format a student can use, such as an audio recording, large print or Braille, according to Penny Peterson, coordinator of Disabled Student Services’ High Tech Center and Alternative Media Project. Instructional materials converted to electronic formats can then be shared with other CSU campuses through the systemwide Center for Alternative Media project. Students must purchase the original book or material and sign a copyright form in order to obtain the alternative format version.
CSULB’s Procurement and Support Services Office has submitted a draft purchasing plan for campus technology to the CSU Chancellor’s Office that includes computer hardware and software as well as other equipment such as telephones, copiers and fax machines. The plan also addresses situations of exemptions and undue burden.
Plans also call for training and certification programs to assist faculty and staff who create Web pages or submit content for them. Additional funding to support ATI activities is being sought through the CSULB resource planning process as well as by the CSU System through its state budget.
Informational presentations about ATI will begin this fall to major campus constituency groups. For more information, visit www.csulb.edu/divisions/students2/committees/ati.