Digital Accessibility Policy
St. Joseph's University as part of its inclusive and transformational mission stands dedicated to providing equal opportunity to persons with disabilities in all functions of the University, including equal access to website and digital media. As the influence of information technology continues to grow on our campuses, the University remains inspired by the charism of its founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph, to sustain an atmosphere of respect, dignity and inclusiveness.
All digital content created or obtained by members of the St. Joseph's University faculty and staff and disseminated by electronic means, subject to the exceptions stated in this policy, must be made accessible to the widest range of users, including those with the more common sensory, motor and cognitive disabilities, by adopting as a minimum all requirements of World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 standards.
The policy will be introduced in phases. This first phase includes any new digital content created or obtained, and disseminated after creation of this policy. Additional phases of the policy will include, at a minimum; remediation of content created or obtained before creation of this policy, as well as existing hardware, software and the procurement of digital products and services. This policy is a living document that will change over time as digital content changes. Policy changes will be communicated to the University community and training opportunities will be provided whenever changes to the policy take place.
Digital accessibility is the practice of creating (or obtaining) and disseminating digital content that is usable by all students, employees and other stakeholders of St. Joseph's University. While accessibility is necessary for individuals with disabilities to understand, navigate and contribute to digital content, it is beneficial for everyone. Digital accessibility is proactive, taking into consideration how users will use and perceive digital information as part of the creation and delivery of materials. Digital accessibility makes websites and digital content accessible to users with auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech and visual impairments, both temporary and permanent. In addition, digital accessibility is beneficial for users limited by the size of the screen they are using to access the material, by the environment they are in when accessing material (i.e. bright sunlight or not able to listen to audio), or by a limited internet connection.
Scope of Policy
This policy applies to all digital content that is acquired, developed, distributed, used, purchased or implemented by or for St. Joseph's University and used within the context of teaching, learning, research, service, employment and other official functions of the University. This includes any web pages, web-based applications, electronic documents, multimedia created or obtained after the effective date of this policy. It also includes any third-party applications used to create and/or disseminate digital content (i.e. web-based content creation, textbook supplemental materials, or mobile applications). Digital content and resources created or obtained prior to the effective date of this policy must comply according to the time frames specified below for web page requirements.
Responsibility for Accessibility
Accessibility is a shared concern for anyone in the St. Joseph's University community who has a hand in creating, obtaining, sharing and publishing digital resources. Each faculty, administrator, staff member, or student organization who obtains, designs, develops, recommends, procures or manages digital content and/or resources is subject to and has responsibilities under this policy.
In order to ensure accessibility of IT products used at St. Joseph's University, those responsible for making decisions about which products to procure must consider accessibility early and throughout the process as one of the criteria for acquisition. This is especially critical for enterprise-level systems or technologies that affect a large number of students, faculty and/or staff.
Considering accessibility in procurement involves the following steps:
- Vendors must be asked to provide information about the accessibility of their products.
- The information provided by vendors must be valid, measured using a method that is reliable and objective.
- Accessibility assurances should be included in contracts. Those making procurement decisions must be able to objectively evaluate the accessibility of products, and to scrutinize the information provided by vendors.
Requesting Accessibility Information From Vendors
Samples of Procurement Language: This page on accessibility policy from the National Center on Disability and Access to Education includes sample accessibility language for requests for proposals, purchasing contracts of specific products, and purchasing procedures used for general purchasing.
University of California Procurement and Product Accessibility: This page describes UC requirements, and includes a link to sample text for inclusion in RFP’s.
California State University Accessible Electronic and Information Technology Procurement: As part of its system-wide Accessible Technology Initiative, CSU provides procedures, checklists and other resources to support vendors and institutions in meeting accessibility requirements in procurement.
MIT Web and software Accessibility Policies and Guidelines: Most notable among MIT’s accessibility resources are checklists to assist in evaluating accessibility when purchasing web based products or software.
Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT)
The University relies on the guidance provided by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT®) for a detailed report of the accessibility of a product or service. Ask vendors to provide an Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR) in the most current VPAT® format as proof of their product or service’s accessibility support. The VPAT® template should be filled out in its entirety and include testing methodology, conformance level, and remarks for any partially-supported or non-supported level per the success criteria of WCAG 2.1 AA.
Product Accessibility Road Map
For any WCAG 2.1 AA success criteria which the product or service either only partially meets, or does not meet, the vendor should provide a road map documenting the expected timeframe and release cycle that will resolve each accessibility issue. Departments should follow up with the vendor to ensure the product is meeting the goals of the accessibility road map.
At its discretion, the University may request a product demonstration of the accessibility support features of a given IT product or service. The vendor should be prepared to create a test account and provide a tour of the accessibility features (demonstrating both keyboard support and screen reader support) of their product via a web conference or in-person meeting.
Exemptions to the Policy
Limited exceptions due to undue burden and non-availability may be granted from the policy where compliance is not technically possible, or is unreasonably expensive or difficult in that it may require extraordinary measures due to the nature of the digital content/resources. However, in these cases where the product is not currently in compliance, every effort will be made to fix the defects by a defined date.
The conclusion of undue burden or non-availability is an institutional decision to be made by the Digital Accessibility Coordinator in consultation with the affected unit and others with relevant perspective or expertise. An exemption does not relieve the University from meeting legal obligations to make reasonable accommodations to users upon request to access the digital content/resources in an equally effective and accessible alternative manner.
Compliance and Corrective Measures
Those responsible for obtaining and creating digital content must monitor and evaluate their content on a regular basis. Questions or concerns regarding compliance with the policy or standards should be reported on the Digital Accessibility Form (will create & provide link to form). All questions and concerns will be directed to the appropriate PC Accessibility Liaisons to address issues of accessibility with digital content and/or resources. The liaison is responsible for contacting the individual responsible for the material who must correct the accessibility issues in a timely manner, justify why modifying the content/resource would create an undue hardship for the University, and/or work with the Office of Student Accessibility Services to identify a reasonable accommodation that provides equal access. If the employee does not provide a satisfactory response to the accessibility issue, the liaison will contact their PC member who will address the issue, in consultation with the Digital Accessibility Coordinator, if necessary.
Date of Adoption and Last Date Updated
This policy will be reviewed and updated or modified as the need arises.
May 2020: Audit of current digital content/resources, creation of PC area implementation plans and training of faculty and staff.
May 2020-2024: All new digital content will be accessible (This includes online classes and class content posted on the LMS to supplement hybrid and face-to-face classes; most units will be creating new content that is accessible well before this deadline).
May 2020-2028: All current (non-archived) content will be accessible (This includes online classes and class content posted on the LMS to supplement hybrid and face-to-face classes; most units will be creating new content that is accessible well before this deadline).
Digital Accessibility Coordinator: Amy Poland
Digital Accessibility Planning Coordinator: Sherley Beausoleil
Digital Accessibility Liaisons
President’s Office: Kimberly Mailley
Business Affairs: Marion Kowalski
- Library: Adele Fitzgerald
- Registrar’s Office: Robert Pergolis
- Canvas/Faculty: Amy Poland
- Brooklyn: Gail Moran & Emily Cementina
- Long Island: Elizabeth McGonigle
- Canvas: Maureen Williams
- Procurement: Eileen Lada
- Website: Justin Hansen
- Design: Stephanie Kearney
- Brooklyn: Romeo Sanchez
- Long Island: Robert Volk
Financial Aid: Gordon Rowe
- Brooklyn: Lauren Purcaro
- Long Island: Michelle Frati
Institutional Advancement: John Paul Lucero
Athletics/Campus Services: Jacqueline Rogers
Additional Accessibility Resources
Last Updated: July 2019