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KY Accessible Information Technology in Schools (AITIS) Project


Developing Accessibility Guidelines for K-12 Education-based Information Technology

Access to information technology is essential for full participation in modern society, and has become a crucial element in the education process. When schools use information technology that is inaccessible to students with disabilities, they are unable to effectively participate with their peers in the classroom or in resource centers and school libraries. Simply purchasing assistive technology components as “add-ons” will not solve this problem by itself, because the underlying information technology resource--such as a piece of instructional software, a CD-ROM encyclopedia, or a class website-often has not been designed in such a way that it will work with assistive technology components such as screen readers, voice input, or head mouse technology.

Under Kentucky law, school districts are required to ensure that the information technology it uses will provide students with disabilities with access “that is equivalent to the access provided individuals who are not disabled” (KRS 61.982). As a means of determining conformity with this provision, Kentucky law further defines that the level of access provided by school systems and other covered entities must be in compliance with federal Section 508 access standards (36 C.F.R. 1194). Although Kentucky's Accessible Information Technology (AIT) law was passed in April of 2000, few school systems are aware of its implications and no formal policies have been formulated to help deal with this issue.

To help provide a framework to address this issue, the Kentucky Assistive Technology Service (KATS) Network in collaboration with the Kentucky Department of Education's Division of Exceptional Children Services, has  launched the AITIS (Accessible Information Technology In Schools) project to develop accessibility guidelines, checklists, and other technical assistance materials for assisting school systems understand and fulfill their obligations under Kentucky's AIT law. These materials are being developed with input and assistance from personnel at the school district level, assistive technology professionals, and representatives from disability consumer groups, and are being refined through a testing and validation process. Guidance and other forms of assistance are being provided from national experts in the field through the participation of the University of Washington's AccessIT project, the National Center for Accessible Media at CPB/WGBH, and Equal Access to Software and Information's (EASI) National Center for Accessible E-learning project. Core funding for the project is being provided by the Southeast Disability Business Technical Assistance Center, which is also an active collaborator in the project.  It is anticipated that the guidelines developed in Kentucky will become a national model for replication around the country.

Kentucky School District IT Accessibility Resources