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University guidelines set standard for ICT accessibility

A new guide will support universities to create welcoming, accessible experiences for staff and students via Information and Communications Technology (ICT) products and services.

The Accessible ICT Procurement Implementation Guide, to launch today, was developed by the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) and the National Disability Coordination Officer (NDCO) Program in response to ICT developments.

Universities can effectively adopt accessibility standards in ICT procurement policies, procedures and practice using the resource, which was produced in partnership with Intopia, an expert advisory panel, and in consideration of Vision Australia recommendations.

ADCET manager Darlene McLennan believes more must be done to make universities inclusive by design. “Procurement processes that check whether ICT products meet the relevant Australian accessibility standards will help universities to ensure their technology is usable by all students,” Ms McLennan said.

Accessibility standards include specifications on supporting a variety of human variance, such as vision, hearing, speech, dexterity, neurodiversity and cognition. In addition, there are considerations around affordability, connectivity, digital literacy, compliance and privacy.

The Implementation Guide will be hosted by the Council of Australasian University Directors of Information Technology. CAUDIT strategic procurement manager Steve Johnston says the resource supports their mission to enable the application of digital capabilities to transform education and research.

“It makes sense to us that we would support universities to purchase products and services all their students and staff can use. This is often more about education, and this resource is a wealth of expertise ready and available for the sector to use,” Mr Johnston said.

Vision Australia chief executive Ron Hooton says ICT is an important means of inclusion and connectivity for people who are blind or have low vision. “It is often a crucial link to gain education, maintain employment, and participate in all kinds of community activities.

“These accessibility standards will help tertiary students who are blind or have low vision to live their life as they choose. Vision Australia is proud our recommendations have helped inform this commendable initiative and we wholly support its aims,” Mr Hooton said.

The Accessible ICT Procurement Implementation Guide will be launched today at 11.00am (ADST) at an online event that will include addresses from Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Ben Gauntlett; Vision Australia lead policy advisor, Bruce Maguire; Intopia business development consultant, Neil Jarvis; and CAUDIT’s Steve Johnston.

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