What is IT accessibility?

Johns Hopkins University is committed to ensuring that people with disabilities have the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as individuals without disabilities. That includes information, interactions, and services that are provided using electronic and information technology (EIT), such as websites, online systems, and electronic teaching equipment. Examples are captioning on videos, alternative text with website images, and transcripts for podcasts.

The university will act in accordance with applicable laws, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act as amended.

Doesn’t Johns Hopkins already follow disability laws?

The university complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and all other applicable laws.

How soon will we have to update our websites and other materials?

The university encourages all departments to start taking action now. Some adaptations are relatively simple and highly effective including:

Won’t it be expensive to make all these changes?

Some changes are relatively simple, such as adding image alt tags or transcribing materials, and need to become part of our regular procedures. Accessibility features should be part of the planning and budgeting for any EIT projects. Efforts to bring existing materials up-to-date can be phased in if departments create a plan and timeline for doing so.

How does this apply to courses?

Our existing process to provide accommodations has been applicable to courses and is not changing. Some students need specific types of accommodations to access course materials and engage in course activities. To learn more about accommodations, please visit Accommodations.

In general, accommodations depend on the nature of the disability and type of content. The university’s goal is to have as much content as possible presented in a way that reduces the need for accommodation requests.

  • If you use videos, ensure they are captioned.
  • If you use images, add alt text for someone using a screen reader.
  • If you use Blackboard, use the tools in the HTML editor to create accessible content.
  • If you use PowerPoint, photos and images can be optimized with a few simple techniques.

In most courses, whether face to face or online, as a student you’ll work with many pieces of content. As a faculty or staff member, you need to keep in mind technical standards for accessibility when you create content items.

How can I find out if my website is accessible or not?

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 define how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. WCAG 2.1 is designed to apply broadly to different web technologies now and in the future, and to be testable with a combination of automated testing and human evaluation. Several online testing tools that will help you evaluate your site are referenced on our accessibility starter guide for website builders. We recommend combining these online testing tools with a human review and evaluation of your site following one of the checklists available at:

Where can I get help making my materials accessible?

In the coming months, this website will be updated with guides and tutorials to help you engage in best practices. Training sessions will be offered to provide information about making EIT accessible.

How will we make sure vendors are meeting accessibility requirements?

The university’s procurement office will assist in identifying vendors who can meet these needs and in creating appropriate agreements.

Procurement will provide a list of approved vendors that departments are strongly encouraged to work with to provide interpreting services, transcribing services, and captioning services in order to make information accessible.

List of Procurement approved resources for interpreting, transcribing and captioning