Chief Information Officer, Doug Foster on Digital Accessibility at UofSC
The University of South Carolina is making a focused, university-wide commitment to ensuring that our digital content is accessible to all of our students, faculty, staff and members of our larger UofSC community. Providing accessible content across all digital properties will enhance everyone’s ability to interact with our university online and allow those with disabilities to engage with our screen-based experiences.
Inclusivity is part of our university culture, and digital accessibility is part of fostering an inclusive digital campus.
The most recent version of the World Wide Web Consortium’s WCAG Level AA guidelines are the accepted standard for digital accessibility compliance at the university. These standards should be incorporated as part of daily work for anyone who creates, manages or purchases any of our digital properties. This daily effort to produce accessible content has never been more crucial than it is right now. Since the onset of COVID-19, our important daily tasks and big milestone moments are all happening online. As a result, students, faculty and staff are in new situations that require them to access information differently than they did before.
Inclusivity is part of our university culture, and digital accessibility is part of fostering an inclusive digital campus. Our Carolinian Creed states that we will “demonstrate concern for others…and their need for the conditions which support their work and development.” Creating accessible digital experiences is critical to addressing that concern for others. Digital accessibility is also a legal requirement that carries significant risks for the university if we fall into non-compliance, including possible loss of federal research grants, federal scholarships and lawsuits from both individuals and the US Office of Civil Rights.
There is a real opportunity for our university to take a leadership position in our commitment to an accessible digital campus. If we all strive to make accessibility practices a constant part of our individual work, we can become the standard by which other institutions measure their own accessibility and inclusivity efforts. But we can’t do it without the help of everyone creating, managing and purchasing our digital content and properties.
Incorporating digital accessibility guidelines as part of your daily work is not difficult, but we understand that it may be new territory at first. We have created a robust support structure to assist you in creating accessible digital content, including accessibility liaisons at the college and division level, a Digital Accessibility Committee leading high-level strategy and a new position in the Director of Digital Accessibility to oversee this new effort and program.
Thank you for your attention and for your help supporting inclusivity and accessibility at the University of South Carolina.
Vice President for Information Technology, Division of Information Technology
Chief Information Officer (CIO)