Digital Accessibility Policy—Academics
Western Governors University (WGU or university) advances equity through commitment to the principles of universal design by creating products and environments to deliver services and support that are usable by all people,to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. Equitable access requires accessible Information and Communications Technologies (ICT),which encompassesweb pages, web-based applications, online instructional content, services,and resources.This policy establishes minimum digital accessibility standard to support the development and maintenance of an inclusive online experience, and to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
Scope: This policy applies to all Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)used by the university to conduct instructional, outreach,and academic support activities.This policy does not apply to digital information and digital services of a personal, non-academic nature or to student-generated content.
A note on language: Multiple schools of thought guide the language and terminology used to describe, refer to, or otherwise represent the preferences, lived realities, and identities of members of the disability community. WGU has chosen to use both person-first and identity-first language throughout this document to account for and honor these multiple perspectives on disability language and representation.
- WGU Accessibility Statement
- Equal Opportunity, Harassment, and Nondiscrimination Policy and Grievance Processes
- Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA)
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and Guidance on Applying WCAG to Non-Web ICT
- Accessibility Standard: The current version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), maintained by the World Wide Web consortium (W3C).
- Accommodation: An alteration of environment, curriculum format, or equipment that allows an individual with a disability to gain access to content and/or complete assigned tasks.
- Equally Effective Alternative: Information and content provided in an accessible format or medium that affords persons with disabilities the opportunity to benefit from the information or content to the same extent as persons without disabilities.
- Information and Communications Technologies (ICT): web pages, web-based applications, online instructional content, services, and resources. ICT includes but is not limited to:
- Web: Websites, web pages, and web-based software published, hosted, or recommended to students by the university and used to conduct instructional, outreach, and academic support activities (including remotely hosted sites and software).
- Instructional Materials and Assessments: Electronic instructional materials, including third-party content and assessments, both optional and required. This includes, but is not limited to, courses of study, textbooks, presentations, handouts, assessments, communications, instructional activities, and exams delivered within the university’s learning management system.
- Other Student Resources: IT systems, electronic documents, and other systems used for academic support activities. This includes, but is not limited to, student-accessed systems for financial aid and academic program administration, library services, scheduling, webinars and conferencing, mobile applications, word processing documents, PDFs, presentations, publications, and spreadsheets that are scanned, uploaded, posted, or otherwise published or distributed electronically.
- Electronic Media: All electronic multimedia resources, including video elements, used by the university to communicate with WGU students, prospective students, and alumni.
- WGU is committed to ensuring its resources are accessible. Accessible material affords a Disabled person the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability in an equally effective manner, with substantially equivalent integration and ease of use.
- Accessibility Standard: WGU ICT will meet Level AA of the current version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), maintained by the World Wide Web consortium (W3C), subject to the exceptions noted in this policy.
- Should accommodations be necessary to create equitable access, learners may request accommodations as outlined in the Accommodations for Students with Disabilities.
- Legacy ICT: ICT that was deployed, altered, or procured prior to January 1, 2022 that is actively being used for instructional, outreach, and academic support activities (e.g. Legacy ICT) must be updated either upon specific request or when substantial changes or upgrades to the content occur.
- Exceptions: The university will outline an exception pathway whereby, under specific circumstances, ICT that does not meet the Accessibility Standard may be used in the academic experience.
- Reporting: The university will provide a means for students to make the university aware of and seek assistance with accessibility issues or access concerns.
- Effective Date: This policy will take effect January 1, 2022 with a goal of achieving institutional compliance by January 1, 2024.
- Implementation: Academic departments will develop procedural documentation that defines timelines for compliance, exception criteria and approval pathways, conformance evaluation practices, training, and skills development.
- Exceptions: Exceptions to this policy may be granted by a responsible academic executive (i.e. VP or above, or their designee) with evidence that compliance with the requirements of this policy is not technically feasible or is unduly burdensome. The request must be submitted to email@example.com and must include:
- ICT name and responsible business unit/administrator
- An accessibility evaluation and analysis
- A detailed explanation of why compliance cannot be met, such as:
- Substantial program impact: Although inaccessible, the ICT presents a significant pedagogical advantage which impacts the university’s mission and/or core values.
- No acceptable alternatives are available: After research of comparable products, it has been determined that an accessible ICT which accomplishes the particular business need of the university is not available.
- Other: Please enter a specific reason if not listed previously.
- Any future plans to bring ICT into compliance
- Equally effective alternative access plan including point of contact for implementation
Upon receipt, the accessibility team will review the request and supporting documentation with the relevant academic executive to render a decision to approve or deny the exception
- Reporting: Students, prospective students, and alumni who encounter inaccessible ICT may bring the issue to the university’s attention by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Complaints of alleged discrimination may be filed per the university’s Equal Opportunity, Harassment, and Nondiscrimination Policy and Grievance Processes.