Getting started with accessibility
A warm welcome to new students, and welcome back to campus for returning students, faculty, and staff! Digital Accessibility Services (DAS) supports the Harvard community in making sure that everyone has the opportunity to access the University’s knowledge, ideas, and resources, including those with disabilities. Here are some quick links to get you started or refresh your accessibility knowledge:
- Resources: Our quick start guide provides resources on creating accessible content, upcoming instructor-led trainings, and helpful contacts.
- Accessibility 101: Past issues of our newsletter include introductions to topics like hosting accessible meetings and supporting a culture of accessibility in your teams.
- Accommodations: If you are a student who would like to request accessibility accommodations, contact your school's Local Student Disability Coordinator (LDC). Learn more about campus accessibility on the University Disability Resources website.
Purchasing accessible technology
When we purchase or license technology from external vendors, it’s important to make sure that the vendor shares Harvard’s commitment to accessibility, and that the tools, platforms, or services they provide will be accessible to the Harvard community.
Unfortunately, sometimes vendors will say that they're committed to accessibility without being able to show examples of their work or make commitments to accessibility in the contract. So we’ve put together a guide to help you ask the right questions and select vendors who will deliver products and services that don’t exclude anyone.
Evaluating potential vendors
As early as possible in conversations with potential vendors, you’ll want to be clear about Harvard’s commitment to accessibility. No need to be an expert — just asking about the vendor’s approach to accessibility can begin the discussion. You can start with this list of accessibility questions for vendors.
And if you're looking to work with a vendor to create or redesign a website, explore this guide on assessing a website vendor for accessibility.
- Featured Article: Asking the Right Questions for Procuring Inclusive, Accessible Technology by Kyle Shachmut, Assistant Director, Digital Accessibility Services.
Including the Accessibility Rider
Harvard’s Accessibility Rider should be included in vendor contracts. By signing it, a vendor commits to upholding Harvard’s accessibility standards. This will make it much easier to address accessibility issues promptly if they arise after the product is in use.
Where can I get help?
Ability+ Harvard affinity group celebrates two yearsWhen Erich Manser arrived at Harvard in 2019, he noticed something was missing: There was not an established group for faculty and staff centered on the disability experience. So he set about changing that.
Upcoming trainings and events
- Digital Accessibility Foundations (IT Academy 2-day course), August 10, 9:00 AM
- DAS Office Hours, August 12, 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
- Testing for Digital Accessibility, August 16, 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
- Creating Accessible PDFs, August 17, 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
- Web Accessibility for Developers, August 24, 10:00 AM
- DAS Office Hours, August 26, 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM