Accessibility 101

Introduction

The University of Iowa embraces the values of inclusion and fairness. For IT staff, this means a commitment to providing all students with access to high-quality information technology services and products, designed to support each individual’s pursuit of academic and personal success.

One way to provide such services and products is to ensure that hardware, software, websites, and other IT systems are usable by all qualified users, including users with disabilities.  These are known as “accessible” information technology (accessible IT). 

Accessible IT is beneficial to users with disabilities and others, because it can be used in a variety of ways and is flexible enough to adapt to the needs of any user.  For one user, for example, an application or website may work best when experienced visually, with a full-size monitor and mouse; for another, the same system may work best with a screen reader, operating the interface using only the keyboard.  For still another, the best mode of operation might involve voice commands on a hand-held smartphone.  Others might use a joystick, a Braille display, or some other assistive technology.

Accessible IT is the goal of a managed process made up of many intentional design and development decisions, based on real-world practice, institutional policy, public standards, and awareness of the diversity of user experience.  It is achieved through designing, developing, purchasing, implementing, and supporting systems that provide an equivalent user experience to all eligible users, regardless of ability or access method. 

Accessibility 101 Links