U-M IT Accessibility Efforts

The University of Michigan is committed to supporting those with accessibility needs. There are several ongoing and project activities that are currently underway across the university to help improve accessibility to technology for students, faculty, and staff with disabilities. A sampling of these activities include:

  • The CIO has funded and staffed an Assistive Technology Manager position within Information and Technology Services (ITS). This position serves as a champion of disabled students, staff, and faculty and as an advisor on assistive technology to all departments of the university. The position is currently being filled by Jane Berliss-Vincent, who holds a Master's Degree in Library Science from U-M and who has been active in the assistive technology field for 25 years.
  • The university has a dedicated Digital Information Accessibility Coordinator, Phil Deaton, who works to provide students, faculty, and staff with support and advice on how to make websites accessible.
  • The Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) has several ongoing efforts to support accessibility, including a campus-wide Web Access Group that meets regularly to discuss issues relating to Web accessibility. OIE also maintains the Web Accessibility at the U-M website to share techniques, tools, and advice about making websites accessible, as well as performs website evaluation and training for U-M units.
  • U-M Council for Disability Concerns (CFDC) meets monthly to address disability issues affecting the University of Michigan community. The Council is organized in committees reflecting the concerns and interests of its members.
  • Services for Students with Disabilities exists as a student advocacy agency and has many services for disabled students, including captioning of video, notetaking, and facilitating the loaning of adaptive equipment and materials.
  • The university has established the James Edward Knox Adaptive Technology Computing Center in the Shapiro Undergraduate Library. The site features a series of tools to help persons with disabilities use computing resources to complete their studies, research and work. Additionally, ITS Campus Computing Sites has several Ergopod workstations that are specially designed to support disabled students situated at multiple locations on campus.
  • ITS, in partnership with the university's Web Accessibility Coordinator from the OIE, has established the ITS Accessible Applications Project. This project is a multi-year effort with the goals of making ITS-provided systems more accessible, as well as ensuring that ITS staff understand both the qualities that make an application accessible and their role in delivering accessible applications. The project team is exploring ways to share the lessons learned both within ITS and across the university.
  • U-M is part of the Center for Institutional Cooperation (CIC) IT Accessibility Group, which promotes collaboration among the Big Ten universities.

This work, along with a history of advocacy by people such as Jim Knox and Jack Bernard, has positioned the university as a nationally recognized leader in regard to technology accessibility.

Additional information about Google Apps for Education accessibility barriers and alternative options is available.