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President's Announcement - CSU Accessible Technology Initiative

To signed version (PDF)

March 29, 2007

Memorandum

To: Campus Community
From: Warren J. Baker, President
Subject: CSU Accessible Technology Initiative

Cal Poly has always had a strong commitment to providing equal access to university resources to all members of our community.  In particular, we are committed to providing equal access to all students to the highest quality academic environment.  The University has created the Disability Resource Center (DRC) and Disability Access and Compliance Committee (DACC) to ensure that we meet our commitment.  The California State University system has recognized the importance of equal access by issuing Executive Order 926 and by establishing the CSU Accessible Technology Initiative (ATI).

Cal Poly is committed to meeting the goals of the ATI which is designed to help CSU campuses implement the electronic and information technology (E&IT) requirements of Executive Order 926 which states: “It is the policy of the CSU to make information technology resources and services accessible to all CSU students, faculty, staff and the general public regardless of disability.”

To achieve this broader goal, the CSU Office of the Chancellor issued coded memoranda (AA-2006-41/AA-2007-04 - CSU ATI Resources) defining specific objectives that must be met by Cal Poly over the next five years in these areas:

  • Web Accessibility – All University Web sites, web applications and services, and digital content must be accessible. Initial focus: critical administrative Web sites and new and significantly redesigned Web sites must comply with existing standards.
  • Instructional Materials – To the extent possible, instructional materials, including online course materials, must be accessible to students with disabilities at the same time they are available to any other student enrolled in that program. Initial focus: timely delivery of alternate formats for print-based materials.
  • Accessible E&IT Procurement – Cal Poly is required to purchase E&IT products and services that conform to established standards, if such are commercially available and their purchase does not result in an undue burden or fundamental alteration.  Initial focus: formal solicitations and acquisitions exceeding $50,000.

Each campus must produce plans for achieving compliance by June 15, 2007.  These plans will outline roles and responsibilities, processes to audit campus compliance and measure plan effectiveness, processes to determine and grant exceptions, campus communication and training, and milestones and timelines for achieving compliance.

Under the leadership of executive sponsor Timothy J. Kearns, Vice Provost/Chief Information Officer, Cal Poly has a dedicated campus team working on the ATI.  The team includes representatives from the Academic Senate, Disability Resource Center, Contracts and Procurement Services (C&PS) and Information Technology Services.

Progress to date includes:

  • The Academic Senate passed a resolution proposed by the Instruction Committee that requires departments and faculty to identify print-based materials (e.g., textbooks) at least six weeks prior to the start of the quarter.
  • A pilot project is underway to bring approximately 30 of Cal Poly’s most important administrative Web sites into compliance with 508 standards by May 15, 2007.  This effort will help identify resources needed to bring the entire campus into compliance.
  • A presentation at the C&PS Open Forum on March 27 introduced the ATI in general and E&IT procurement deadlines specifically.  A new software decision policy and process that includes accessibility as one item to be considered.
  • Cal Poly’s Disability Access and Compliance Committee recently adopted a logo and poster to increase campus awareness of the ATI and related accessibility issues.  The logo is displayed at the Cal Poly Accessibility Website and at the end of this message.

Consistent with Federal and State laws, the CSU policy and ATI represents a major shift in how we view accessibility from a reactive model to a proactive model.  In the past, accommodating persons with disabilities was sufficient.  Today, CSU campuses must now provide E&IT products and services that are inherently accessible and useable by everyone, including persons with disabilities.

Since EO 926 was issued in January 2005, Cal Poly has developed resources and tools, training and support to help the campus community be more compliant.  However, through the ATI, Cal Poly will be able to leverage resources and expertise across the CSU to help us develop and sustain our own accessibility plans.

Successful implementation requires everyone’s commitment to follow existing standards and to apply universal design concepts when designing websites, buying E&IT products and services, and creating and delivering instructional materials.  (Universal design has as its goal the design of products and services that are inherently accessible for all.)

Please visit the following websites for more information about the ATI and Cal Poly’s accessibility services, plans and activities:

Both sites include links to related policies such as EO 926.  You will also find links there to a series of videos in which CSU students with disabilities share their experiences in the college classroom.  I would strongly encourage each of you to view the videos to better appreciate how universal design can improve student learning as a whole while removing barriers to learning for students with disabilities.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this directive, please contact the campus ATI Project Coordinators: Mary Shaffer, ITS Policy Assurance Officer, (805) 756-5538, mshaffer@calpoly.edu; Trey Duffy, Director, Disability Resource Center, 805-756-5752 duffy@calpoly.edu.Universal Design - Think before you teach, buy, design

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