Proposed policy on digital accessibility is open for comments

Comments are being accepted through Aug. 31 on a draft policy on digital accessibility that calls for regular reviewing and repairing existing materials, widespread training and -- by 2026 -- a requirement that all new digital content meet digital accessibility standards.

The policy would be effective Oct. 1 and require all the university's digital resources to be accessible and inclusive, including websites, software, learning management systems, course content, training materials and communications.

The draft policy outlines a timeline for compliance:

  • By Oct. 1, units would be required to begin taking inventory of their digital resources.
  • Units would be required to create a plan by July 1, 2022, for using existing resources to provide faculty and staff digital accessibility education and professional development.
  • By July 1, 2023, units would need to be working to make all new digital content compliant.
  • All new digital content produced or purchased after July 1, 2026, would be required to meet the university's digital accessibility standards, which currently are the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (level AA) but are subject to revision by the university's digital accessibility task force.  

Under the policy, every unit that manages web resources would need to create a plan for fixing or replacing content that doesn't meet accessibility standards. The highest priority in those plans would be changes required by reasonable accommodation requests under disability laws. Beyond that, units should annually plan to remediate or replace the top 20% of their most-used noncompliant web resources. Pages needed for coursework or essential job functions also should receive special focus, even if they aren't in the top 20% of a unit's most-used resources.

The office of the chief information officer would be able to grant exceptions to the guidelines if they would cause undue hardship or fundamentally alter a program, in cases where accessible versions of material don't exist, and when alternative means of access are equally effective.

For more information about digital access, contact digital accessibility lead Cyndi Wiley at digitalaccess@iastate.edu or see the digital access website. Submit comments about the policy to policy@iastate.edu.

For some quick tips on the sorts of changes required by digital accessibility standards, see an overview from Wiley in the ISU Service Portal or review the portal's other digital accessibility content. At May's Professional and Scientific Council meeting, Wiley outlined some of the growing ISU resources for learning about digital accessibility and putting the standards into practice.