I. OBJECTIVE & PURPOSE
The purpose of this policy is to establish standards for information and communication technology (ICT) for Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility in compliance with applicable local, state, and federal regulations and laws. This policy and related procedures provide specific information regarding those requirements and the offices/departments, which are charged with the responsibility for ensuring compliance. Our goal is to promote accessibility for our users to ensure that as broad a population as possible may access and benefit from our services, programs, and activities. Accessible ICT promotes access for all users.
"The Americans with Disabilities Act, Pub. L. No. 101-336, 104 Stat. 327, codified at 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., prohibits state and local governments, and privately-owned "places of public accommodation" from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a). Department of Justice regulations implementing the statute requires that: A public accommodation shall take those steps that may be necessary to ensure that no individual with a disability is excluded, denied services, segregated or otherwise treated differently than other individuals because of the absence of auxiliary aids and services, unless the public accommodation can demonstrate that taking those steps would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations being offered or would result in an undue burden, i.e., significant difficulty or expense." 28 C.F.R. § 36.303. uses the term "places of public accommodation," typically it would appear that the statute was written primarily with physical locations in mind. The U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Civil Rights ruled that these provisions applied equally to Internet websites and concluded that Section 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (pdf), codified at 29 U.S.C. § 794, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in federally-funded educational programs and activities, applies to University websites.
For purposes of this policy, the following definitions apply to the use of web pages, web-based applications, and information technology to be used by UNF students, faculty members, staff, or visitors.
- "Accessible" means a person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability.
- "Archived ICT" is information containing core administrative or academic information, official records, and similar information that is no longer available to a wide audience but are subject to record retention plans. Note that technology components such as software applications and hardware devices are not placed in archive status.
- "Assistive Technologies" are adaptive, rehabilitative devices that promote greater independence for individuals with disabilities by changing how these individuals interact with technology. Examples include, but are not limited to, special input devices (e.g., head or foot mouse, puff-and-sip switches, and speech recognition), screen-reading software, and screen magnifiers.
- "Content editors" are authorized University staff for the UNF web presence. Authorized content editors are approved to maintain a departments or units web presence.
- "ICT" includes all electronic content, software, hardware, and support documentation and services.
- "New online content and functionality compliance" ensures that all new, newly-added, or modified online content and functionality will be accessible to individuals with disabilities as measured by WCAG conformance.
IV. STATEMENT OF POLICY
UNF is committed to ensuring that its official ICT are compliant for individuals with disabilities. World Wide Consortium standards set in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.1 level AA conformance level is the minimum accessibility standard for all UNF ICT which includes non-web information and communications technologies. Accessibility is not a one-time effort. Compliance is an ongoing effort which will require collaboration with all departments, continuous work, and support to balance the academic and administrative needs of ICT users. Specifically, university employees shall comply with directives from the Director of ADA Compliance for auditing, remediation, reporting and implementation of Web accessibility for accessible technology, information, and procurement practices in collaboration with the Information Technology Services staff, Webmaster, Functional Owners/Content Editors, and others required to achieve WCAG 2.1 AA compliance.
- Archived Content
Archived documents and web content on UNF's web pages will not be required to be accessible immediately. In the event that a person makes a request to make archived web content accessible, the unit or department responsible for its maintenance must make it compliant with the applicable standard, or provide an equally effective accommodation within five days of the initial request.
- The third-party vendor process shall include an accessibility evaluation of any and all information technology. Vendors are required to submit the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) as per University guidelines. The University will assess the claims put forth in the VPAT and any other claims of conformance with WCAG 2.1 level AA for validity. Such accessibility will be taken into consideration in making procurement decisions. All University contracts for vendors of ICT or related services will contain appropriate provisions, as prescribed by the Office of the General Counsel, concerning product, service or program accessibility and compliance with applicable federal and state laws and regulations.
- The University’s procurement and documentation processes must also contain language requiring that bidders meet the accessibility standards set forth in this policy and include a provision in which the vendor warrants or represents that all technology provided complies with these standards and any other applicable federal or state regulations and laws pertaining to web accessibility.
- Requesting ADA Accommodation
If a person with a disability needs to request access to online information or functionality that is currently inaccessible as an ADA accommodation, please contact the Director of ADA Compliance Office at (904) 620-2870.
Each University department with responsibility for computer hardware and software, operating systems, web-based information and applications, web content, websites and digital materials must submit compliance status reports to ADA as requested by the ADA office. The report must summarize the efforts and progress achieved to comply with this policy.
To request an exemption from the policy, purchasers, and creators of web content and digital information may request an exemption from meeting the requirements of this policy with a justifiable reason for the exception. To qualify for an exemption, one of the following four criteria must be met. Additionally, purchasers and creators of web content and digital information must be able to provide an equally effective alternative format that provides the same timely information to the user of the content. Questions and justifications can be directed to the ADA Compliance office; the address can be identified in the grievance section of this policy.
- Where compliance is not technically possible or may require extraordinary measures due to the nature or intent of the ICT, application or service, a request for exemption must be made.
- Where compliance would result in a fundamental alteration of the ICT, application, or service, and not satisfy the original intent.
- Where, in the case that ICT, applications and services that are procured from third-party vendors or contractors; and that no alternative accessible products are available from other third-party vendors or contractors, procurement can be made of a non-compliant product.
- Where the product is not currently in compliance, but efforts are underway to fix the defects, the third-party vendor must meet the specific deadlines set for compliance. Otherwise, the contract may be terminated.
Any person desiring to file a complaint of discrimination on the basis of disability, including ADA accessibility issues, or any other basis protected by law, ordinance, or university regulation or policy, may contact the Director, Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity as designated by the University president. The Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, University of North Florida, is located at J. J. Daniel Hall, Suite 1201, 1 UNF Drive, Jacksonville, Florida 32224-7699, or call (904) 620-2507 Voice & TDD and (904) 1004 Fax or via 711 Florida Relay for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing or those with speech impairments and/or limitations.