GAAD occurs annually on the third Thursday of each May, so May 18th for this year. This is a day to spark conversations about accessibility, especially with a focus on our digital world, and learn how we can provide more inclusive, accessible experiences for our USC members and guests with and without disabilities.
Disability and the Numbers
Upon the range of disabilities and health conditions that can be diagnosed, let’s step back and think of the bigger picture of how many of us will eventually gain the experience of living with a disability. Whether temporary (e.g., broken arm, concussion), situational (e.g., need of captioning), or permanent disability, disabilities impact the way people learn, work, and perform daily tasks.
To gain a better sense of how many people this affects, regarding those with a diagnosed permanent disability, here’s a few statistics:
- Globally: over 1 billion people (1 in 6 people worldwide).
- United States: 25% (1 in 4 of Americans)
- South Carolina: 29% (about 1 of 3 South Carolinians)
- USC-Columbia: almost 4,000 students are registered with our USC Student Disability Resource Center (this is not the total of students with a disability as they are not required to register for accommodations).
Accessibility throughout USC's Digital Campus
Accessibility is important to enhance everyone's experiences throughout our USC community, but, for some people, accessibility is necessary to even make the experience possible.
In our physical world, such as throughout our USC campus, someone that depends on a wheelchair has the ability to cross College Street in front of our Horseshoe because of the sidewalk curb cut ramps.
Accessibility, though, extends beyond the physical world. Digital accessibility applies to our USC website, course content, and other digital content and services that we provide to our USC family, from our students to alumni and from our employees to guests.
So, where does this take us?
It's the Right Thing to Do
Let’s start by acknowledging accessibility is simply the right thing to do. As we continue forward with building towards a more inclusive campus, let’s shift towards a collective, sincere mindset that providing accessible digital experiences is beneficial for everyone, including those with a disability.
One example of inclusive experiences is an accessible document. This document should provide access to all information displayed, including section headings of the document. When designed correctly, just as those that can visually browse the document, a person that is blind can digitally browse the sections by headings using their screen reader technology allowing them the ability to skip from heading to heading.
Working with this mindset of accessible design helps us see that we all have a part to play with this to help each other better understand, better design, and better develop for our USC digital community. This leads towards a better insight that accessibility is a human right that builds a pathway towards preventing digital roadblocks and providing disability inclusion.
Where Do We Start?
Yes, where do we start to move from this more abstract overview to tangible building blocks?
- USC Center for Teaching Excellence provides a “Teaching Towards Inclusive Excellence” certification that includes document accessibility session.
- Our USC Digital Accessibility team will be building training sessions focused on separate accessibility best practices.
- Blackboard Ally is an integrated accessibility tool within Blackboard. It can identify document accessibility issues and provide guidance on how to resolve the issues. It also makes it possible to convert these files to alternative formats, such as PDF and MP3.
- Microsoft Office 365 Accessibility Checker is an automated tool available to use with desktop app or online platform. This checker is available in Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and other Microsoft apps.
- Additional resources
- Adobe Accessibility
- Microsoft Office Accessibility
- Web Accessibility Initiative
- Search the Web! The above are just a few of many. Search for other accessibility tools, guidance, webinars, and best practices that best fit your role and digital content or services you're responsible for.
This is the Start...of USC Digital Accessibility Redesign
GAAD 2023 is here and it's a great time at USC! Our Digital Accessibility team has grown and is working hard to enable and enhance our Accessibility website and engage more with our campus partners. As we aim our launch for Fall 2023 semester, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Kim Hodges, Director of Digital Accessibility, at firstname.lastname@example.org.