Dear Charter Oak Students, Faculty, and Staff,
I am happy to announce the CSCU Accessibility Policy for Electronic Information and Technology (EIT) (external link) which was passed by the Board of Regents in October 2020. The purpose of the Connecticut State College and Universities (CSCU) Accessibility policy for EIT is to establish standards for the accessibility of EIT considered necessary to ensure compliance with applicable local, state, and federal regulations and laws.
As a CSCU institution, Charter Oak State College is required to develop local procedures to implement, monitor and ensure compliance with the standards established in the EIT Accessibility Policy. CSCU Executive Leadership has overall responsibility for the implementation of this Policy. CSCU faculty, staff, and administrators all share in the CSCU responsibility for accessible EIT.
Charter Oak State College is committed to ensuring that people with disabilities can acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as individuals without disabilities. That includes information, interactions, and services that are provided using electronic and information technology (EIT), such as websites, online systems, and electronic teaching equipment. Examples are captioning on videos, alternative text with website images, and transcripts for podcasts.
“Accessible” means that individuals with disabilities can independently acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services within the same timeframe as individuals without disabilities, with substantially equivalent ease of use.
Although students with disabilities are entering higher education in greater numbers, high school graduates with disabilities complete a college degree at a significantly lower rate when compared to their nondisabled peers (National Council on Disability Briefing Paper, 2015 (external link)). EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association that helps higher education elevate the impact of IT, has identified Accessibility and Universal Design – educating the community in effective practices and course designs that are accessible by everyone – as a key issue in teaching and learning. EIT Accessibility offers extensive pedagogical benefits for people with and without disabilities. It leverages the principles of Usability and Universal Design for Learning (external link), which emphasize the importance of meeting the needs of all learners.
Consistent with its long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion, Charter Oak State College recognizes the growing responsibilities associated with this reliance on technology to assure that individuals with disabilities and individuals who are temporarily disabled have equitable access to electronic information resources. This is particularly pertinent to decisions around web accessibility, as well as purchasing and creating digital content, software, and hardware with the focus rightly placed on universal design, allowing all individuals to engage.
To achieve these goals, Charter Oak State College has created a Digital Accessibility Compliance (DAC) Committee to oversee Policy Compliance. The DAC Committee is comprised of Charter Oak State College staff from various departments along with faculty members.
The DAC Committee recognizes that Charter Oak State College should address EIT community wide to:
- promote a more inclusive and welcoming digital environment, especially for individuals with disabilities
- enable the colleges to address EIT accessibility barriers
- empower college students with disabilities to persist and complete their educational goals
- work with third party vendors to conform to technical accessibility standards
- create a compliance plan for deliverables and timelines aligned to the EIT Accessibility Policy standards
- ensure compliance with applicable local, state, and federal regulations and laws
Given the EIT Accessibility Policy reaches into many student and public facing facets at Charter Oak State College, the DAC Committee has been grouped into four subcommittees in the areas of web accessibility and social media, IT procurement, course content, and EIT accessibility training for faculty and staff. I am pleased to report the Committee has spent the past year working on various deliverable and goals for EIT accessibility and will continue over a multi-year plan.
To honor our commitment to accessibility, I would ask the Charter Oak State College staff and faculty to:
- Read the EIT Accessibility Policy
- Support and assist the DAC Committee members with requests
- Use the resources on this EIT Accessibility Website
- Become a part of our accessibility community initiatives
Ed Klonoski, President
Charter Oak State College, Spring 2022
The DAC Committee Members:
- Sarah Ellis, Office of Accessibility Services
- David Ferreira, Provost
- Barry Vroeginday, Director, Instructional Design
- Susana Orozco, Director, Academic Programs
- Matt Pickering, Director of Network Operations
- Bill Burnes, Manager Tech Support
- Colleen LeBlanc, Systems Administrator
- Jon Ellis, Assistant Director, Marketing & Web Technologist
- Gerry Gagliardi, Associate Director of Information Systems
- Amy Luby, Assistant Registrar
- Carol Hall, Associate Director of Development
- Carlita Cotton, Faculty
- Michael Starenko, Faculty
- Dana Wilkie, Faculty