Guidelines for Determining Accessibility in Emerging Technology
“Just as a school system would not design a new school without
addressing physical accessibility, the implementation of emerging
technology should always include planning for accessibility.” –United
States Department of Education; Office for Civil Rights
When procuring emerging technology to use in the classroom, we
must thoughtfully consider the accessibility of the technology to
ensure that Auburn University continues to provide an equitable
and inclusive learning environment for students with disabilities.
Before deciding to use emerging technology, faculty and staff should
consider the following questions as part of the assessment process.
- How does the use of the technology enhance the
learning experience for the students?
- What benefits and opportunities are available
to the students through the use of this technology?
- Has the developer of the technology considered
- Can the technology easily be made accessible?
- Is an equivalent, accessible technology already
If the new technology is not accessible and there is no equivalent,
accessible technology already available, the following questions
should be asked:
Will accommodations result in the same enhanced
learning experience and/or benefits and opportunities
as the new technology?
- For example, an instructor cannot
use inaccessible ebook readers in
the classroom and assume that books
on tape are an equitable accommodation
for any students with disabilities.
In this case, the enhanced learning
experience, benefits, and opportunities
provided by the ebook reader would
not be available to the students
with disabilities, resulting in
a discriminatory and inequitable
learning environment. A more appropriate
accommodation may be the use of
light-weight tablet computers, which
can also access the ebooks and use
assistive technology, such as text
to speech software and accessible
controls for navigating the computer.
Can the accommodations be made in a timely and
- For example, a teacher plans
to utilize an online forum for discussions
of course material outside of class.
The course material includes video
clips. The teacher posts the video
clips to the course website, but
also posts audio descriptions of
each video clip. Assistive technology
allows sight impaired students to
access the links for the audio descriptions
as quickly and easily as the sighted
students can access the video clips.
The teacher ensures that the audio
descriptions are posted at the same
time as the video clips, so that
the sight impaired students have
the same time frame with which to
review the material as the other
students in the course.
The guidelines above are based on the document
“Frequently Asked Questions about the June 29, 2010,
Dear Colleague Letter” released on May 26, 2011.
To see the document in its entirety please visit
Department of Education Office for Civil Rights
To view Auburn University's policy on
emerging technology, please visit
Policy on Equal Access to Emerging Technology.
If you have questions regarding the accessibility
of technology you or your department are considering,
please contact the Office of Accessibility
Last Updated: Apr. 24, 2012