Checking in on Accessibility (AccessComputing News Feb 2009)

Wendy Chisholm, AccessComputing Staff

AccessComputing staff and participants developed an Accessibility Checklist to guide faculty and administrators in making their computing departments more accessible. The checklist is based on the concept of universal design, defined by Ron Mace of the Center for Universal Design as, "the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design."

The checklist, available at, includes tips that enable computing departments to be more welcoming and accessible to students and instructors. Checklist items include:

  • Is an adjustable-height table available for each type of computer workstation?
  • Is screen enlargement software available for users with low vision?
  • Is text-to-speech software available for those with print-related disabilities?
  • Is a trackball available for those who have difficulty controlling a mouse?
  • Are adequate work areas available for both right- and left-handed users?

Currently, I am helping colleges and universities implement the checklist. We start with a department's website and make sure it is accessible. We add other elements to make the site welcoming to visitors with disabilities, such as photos of students with disabilities. We add links to an Office of Diversity or Disability Services Office so students can learn more about the accessibility of a campus and its programs.

If you have suggestions for improving the checklist, or if you would like me to help your institution implement the checklist, contact me at