Self-Assessments: Access for People with Disabilities
The California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) has set as one of its priorities access for people with disabilities to technology and broadband. For this community, technology access is a critical component in economic and educational success. People with disabilities are often early adopters of technology, despite the fact that people with disabilities have an unemployment rate of 73%.
Technology can level the playing field for people with disabilities. By using broadband, this community can compete with their non-disabled peers, have access to information and participate in forums without having to reveal the fact of having a disability, and without having to ask for accommodations.
Grantees are using the self-assessment documents. CETF, however, is posting these documents to encourage all organizations that want to increase their accessibility to use them.
CETF has determined that grantees will need to assess and identify accessibility barriers for people with disabilities in using their programs and services, as well as for potential employees with disabilities. CETF is not saying that all access barriers must be removed, or that it will assist in fixing every problem encountered. But in order to assess the ways Californians with disabilities can actively benefit from the digital revolution, an understanding of accessibility barriers must be completed. CETF is asking for a plan with a timeframe for addressing selected barriers.
The CETF definition of a person with a disability is one who has one or more physical or mental impairments (i.e., affecting vision, hearing, dexterity, mobility, learning ability/cognition, or a psychological disorder) that substantially limit the individual's ability to perform one or more major life functions.
CETF will be reviewing three areas of accessibility for all grantees:
Physical accessibility includes access to both grantee's programs and services, as well as access to program collateral.
Technology accessibility includes access to a grantee's computers that are available for use by the public, as well as the computers used by a grantee's staff.
Website accessibility refers to making a website usable by people with disabilities who may be using a wide range of assistive technologies.
This self-assessment is divided into three sections. The expectation is that the right person or team for each section will complete the self-assessment portion (for example: the Office Manager may complete the Physical Accessibility Self Assessment, while the Web Master or IT person might complete the Website Accessibility Self Assessment). This document is designed to be divided into three sections and given to the appropriate staff members.
Physical Accessibility Self Assessment
Physical Accessibility in this context refers to both the site where clients will be served and where staff members work. It also refers to any collateral or materials that are provided to clients to give information about services, and any forms that will be filled out by clients or staff.
This self-assessment will assist your staff in starting to determine where access barriers exist.
Getting to your building
Is there public transportation that enables people to get to your building? How far is the nearest transit stop?
Is there off-street parking adjacent to your site??
Is the surface of the parking area smooth and hard (no sand, gravel, etc.)?
Are there parking spaces designated for persons with disabilities in the parking areas?
Are there directional signs to these reserved spaces?
Are there curb ramps at all sidewalk crossings between the parking area and your building? Between the transit stop and your building?
Do any items of outdoor furniture, seating surfaces, plant stands, or columns pose a potential hazard to mobility for persons with vision impairments?
Are any trees or shrubs close to ramps or walks or hanging low over them to where they might possibly strike a person walking or interfere with a cane or wheelchair movement?
Is at least one entrance at ground level or capable of being reached by ramps?
If ramp access is provided, is the ramp grade low enough to permit easy wheelchair access?
Do ramps have a minimum of 3 feet width of clear travel space?
Are walkway and ramp surfaces made of a non-skid material?
Do ramps have level landings at the top and at turns?
Do ramps have a handrail on at least one side?
Are ramps and accessible entrances marked with accessibility symbols?
If there are steps leading to the main entrance, do those steps have a sturdy handrail on at least one side or in the center?
Do stairways use tactile strips to indicate edges?
Are doorways wide enough to permit wheelchair passage?
Does your building entrance have an automatic door? Does it require a button to activate it or does it open automatically when someone approaches?
Can entrance doors be opened without excessive pressure or unusual manipulation of the opening mechanism?
Are exterior entrances illuminated at night to an average level of at least five foot-candles?
If there are gratings on walkways, are the spacings no greater than one-half inch wide?
Are the edges of curb cuts marked by texture or colors?
Corridors and Aisles
Are corridors and aisles at least five feet wide?
Are corridors free of obstructions?
Elevators, Stairways, and Interior Ramps
Do all stairways have handrails on both sides?
Is the minimum clear width for ramps at least 36 inches?
Are there tactile warning signals or floor texture changes at stairways?
For multi-story buildings with public areas above ground level, is there elevator access to other floors?
Are elevator control panels reachable by persons with mobility disabilities?
Do elevator control panels have floor numbers in raised numerals or Braille symbols?
Is the elevator cab of a size adequate to accommodate a wheelchair?
Doors and Emergency Exits
Does your site have doorways that are less than 32" wide?
Are routes to emergency exits well marked?
Is there a plan for persons in wheelchairs to be removed from upper floors in case of fire?
Are there areas of the building that can only be accessed by passing through revolving doors or turnstiles?
Are door thresholds raised, and pose a potential danger to persons using canes or crutches or who are in wheelchairs?
Can exit doors be opened easily, particularly from a wheelchair?
Are doors to hazardous areas properly marked?
Is at least one restroom for each gender designed for use by persons in wheelchairs and accessible to them?
Is there adequate lighting in the restroom?
Are mirrors and towel dispensers mounted low enough to be useable from a wheelchair?
Are faucet taps coded with raised letters or color cues?
Are restroom doors clearly and distinctly marked?
If drinking fountains are provided, is there at least one fountain accessible to a person in a wheelchair?
If telephones are provided in public areas, is at least one phone accessible to persons in wheelchairs?
Is at least one instrument equipped with volume control?
Does your office have a TTY line?
Signs, Controls, and Alarms
In special areas for persons with disabilities, such as reading rooms, are light switches and other controls a) prominently marked and b) easily accessible?
Are directional and warning signs in Braille, in large print, or on recording?
Are alarms installed that are both visual and audible (e.g., fire alarms that use both a flashing light and an audible alarm)?
Are signs in Braille or large print placed low enough to be seen by persons with very limited vision or touched by a person in a wheelchair?
Do you have a large print and/or tactile floor plan of your site??
Are tactile warning textures provided on or at: a) floor level changes, b) doors to hazardous areas, and c) top and bottom of stairs?
In auditoriums or other group meeting places with fixed seating, are there at least two open seating spaces, each wide enough for wheelchairs, at several places along each aisle from front to rear?
Are all materials provided by your organization available in a)large print (14 point or larger), b) Braille and c)on CD-Rom in word format?
Technology Accessibility Self Assessment
Creating accessibility for your computer technology can seem a daunting task, but it can be done without a huge investment of time or money. Fortunately, many accessibility features are built into operating systems, so having staff understand how to use these features should be a major focus of the technology planning.
The following goals should be achieved as part of technology planning for your organization:
- The access features of the operating systems (OS) on all of your computers are installed.
- Example: Every computer has an operating system, the most common being Windows and Macintosh. Each of these systems has some built-in accessibility features that allow the user to adjust the keyboard, bypass the mouse, change the cursor, magnify what appears on the screen and read text aloud. Information about the accessibility features of the Windows operating system can be found at: http://www.microsoft.com/enable/. Macintosh OS accessibility information can be found at: http://www.apple.com/disability/easyaccess.html.
- Staff and volunteers know how to activate, adjust and provide instruction on the accessibility features of their computer's operating systems.
- At least one workstation, but preferably more, has assistive technology software programs that allow people who have vision, hearing, dexterity, learning or reading-related limitations to perform basic functions on a computer such as word processing, e-mail and web "surfing."
- Example: Someone with limited English skills or a learning disability benefits from a word processor that gives audio feedback as they type and/or has a word prediction feature. A person with low vision could use a screen enlargement program. Someone with limited use of his or her hands can access the computer with a voice recognition system.
- You have some basic assistive technology equipment that is available and maintained in good working order.
- Example: Your inventory could include, among other items, one or more mouse and keyboard alternatives and low tech aids such as a keyguard or wrist supports.
- Staff and volunteers know how to operate your assistive technology hardware and software.
- Staff and volunteers know where to find information and resources about assistive technology hardware and software.
- Example: Develop and maintain a resource list that includes contact information for assistive technology resources for people with disabilities.
- A line item that will provide for ongoing assistive technology purchases and upgrades is part of your technology budget.
Do all of your computers have their operating system's accessibility features installed?
Have your staff and volunteers been trained in the use of operating accessibility features?
Is there a staff person who as part of their job description is responsible for the accessibility of your computers?
Does your organization maintain a resource that lists contact information for assistive technology resources, such as ATA members or other assistive technology providers?
Is there a plan document in place for the acquisition and upgrading and maintenance of assistive technology hardware and software?
Do you have a line item for assistive technology purchases and upgrades as an ongoing part of your technology budget?
When deciding on a new piece of technology, do you have a testing process for making sure it is accessible before deciding on whether to purchase it?
Is there a plan document in place for staff training with new assistive technology?
Does your organization have a way for computer users to notify staff of their accessibility needs?
Does your technology inventory include some products from the following categories?
- Keyboard Alternatives - Some computer users may have trouble using a standard keyboard because of dexterity or motor limitations. Do you offer alternatives to a standard keyboard such as a compact keyboard, large key keyboard, onscreen keyboard or voice recognition system?
- Mouse Alternatives - Because of functional limitations in the use of their hands, some computer users cannot use a standard mouse. Do you offer alternatives to a standard mouse such as a trackball, joystick or touchscreen?
- Enhanced View Monitor - Someone with low vision who needs to magnify what they see on the screen requires a larger monitor than the standard 14 or 15-inch screen. Do you offer a monitor that is 21 inches or larger?
- Voice Output Software - Someone who is blind or has difficulty reading English can benefit from software programs that covert text into speech and read aloud what appears on the screen. Do you offer access to software programs with voice output capability?
Low Tech Aids - There are many simple and inexpensive products that can make a computer more accessible for a wide variety of people. Do you have large print high contrast keyboard labels, wrist supports, keyguards or adjustable monitor mounts?
Website Accessibility Self Assessment
For people with disabilities who have computer access, electronic access often takes the place of the accessible front door of an organization. People with disabilities are heavy users of the Web, and the need for access is a critical component of independence for people with disabilities. People with disabilities tend to be early adopters of technology, and were among the first to focus on the internet as the best way to get information.
Digital accessibility impacts people with many disabilities.
- For blind users, the interaction between the website and the assistive technology (e.g. JAWS, WindowEyes) is critical. A well designed website can enable screen reader users to easily navigate the site and get the information they want.
- For low vision users, the ability to enlarge the website (using either assistive technology such as ZoomText or by changing system preferences) is critical. Color contrast and text size are also key elements of access for these users.
- People with limited mobility have difficulty with sites that require extensive navigation. Creating a site that limits the number of mouse clicks and scrolling makes it more accessible for these users.
- For people with learning disabilities and other cognitive issues, site layout is important. Using icons that are easily recognizable, creating a standard look for each page, and having an intuitive layout are all strategies for increasing access for these users.
There is an added benefit to looking at accessible web design to people who do not have disabilities: Websites that take accessibility into account tend to be easier to use for everyone. So the result is that people with disabilities have effective and efficient access to information through accessible websites – in most cases, where there was no access before, and the website is more user friendly to all visitors.
We do not expect your organization to learn how assistive technologies work with your website, or how people with disabilities will be impacted by the design you have chosen. The website self assessment tool is designed to give the CETF key information about your site to determine the size of an accessibility audit.
Website Self Assessment
Site URL: www.
Is this site a public website, an intranet site or an extranet site?
Approximately how many pages are in this website?
Is the content of the website; static (content does not change for each user); content managed (e.g. interactive forums, or; Database driven (e.g. online shopping site, online ordering)
How many people do you have working on the website?
What is the nature of the site:
- Almost entirely informational
- Contains a significant amount of functionality - transactional/e-commerce
- Almost entirely transactional/ e-commerce
Please briefly summarize the main reasons why visitors come to the site.
Please list the most popular areas of the site.
Please list any areas/functions of the site which are essential for all visitors of your site to use (i.e. search facility, shopping basket, check out etc).
Please list any areas that have attracted any negative user feedback. For examples: have users complained that finding information on your site is difficult, or that there were too many options?
Please list any areas you know have accessibility issues.
Do you have the ability for users to change the size of the text on your site?
Does your site have any areas where contrast is insufficient, or text that is difficult to read?
Do you have an accessibility information section? If so, please list the URL.
Is any section of the web site operated by a third party?
Is there a text-only version of the website?
Are there any other language versions of the website, e.g. Spanish?
Does the site include any secure transactions? (Secured areas can include banking and online shopping.)
Does the site contain Flash used to deliver content or functionality such as games, online demonstrations or forms etc.
Does the site contain other additional file formats or downloadable content such as PDF, Word or Text?
Does the site contain audio or video?
Web Accessibility (PDF, 279.37 KB) The Center for Accessible Technology