University of Illinois Chicago Demonstrates Strong Commitment to Employees and Students with Disabilities by Improving Digital Access for Blind Users
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 9, 2021
UIC Contact, Caryn Bills-Windt, Associate Chancellor, Office for Access and Equity, (312) 413- 8145, firstname.lastname@example.org
Equip for Equality, Rachel M. Weisberg, Supervising Attorney, (312) 895-7319, email@example.com
Chicago, IL – Today, the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) announces the outcome of a yearlong collaborative process aimed at improving digital accessibility for UIC employees, students and community members who are blind or have low vision.
“UIC is committed to full inclusion and participation of people with disabilities who study and work at the university and we value the importance of digital accessibility across all platforms,” said Caryn Bills-Windt, Associate Chancellor, UIC Office for Access and Equity.
To achieve these outcomes, UIC partnered with Equip for Equality (EFE), Illinois’ federally mandated, governor-designated Protection and Advocacy System for people with disabilities, as well as with blind UIC employee Peter Berg. Through dialog, regular meetings and a thoughtful exchange of ideas, UIC, EFE and Berg collaborated to identify barriers, solutions and best practices for digital access.
“I appreciate UIC’s intent to be proactive about digital accessibility through its new policies, training and procurement rules,” said Berg. “A proactive approach is critically important to ensure blind employees and students can independently access what we need to do our jobs and be part of the community.”
As a result of this collaboration, UIC has already made substantial improvements to several digital technologies and resources. For example, now when blind users open UIC’s SAFE App, a digital resource for on-campus safety, it is readable with assistive technology. Blind users similarly can now access UIC’s COVID-19 Safety Training, COVID-19 Dashboard, and Human Resources website.
UIC has also demonstrated its commitment by hiring an Assistant Director for Digital Accessibility and by creating ADA and Electronic Information Technology (EIT) accessibility committees, which will support UIC’s ongoing efforts to improve digital accessibility for blind and low vision members of the UIC community.
UIC is actively developing campus EIT Accessibility Policies, Practices and Procedures that will include requirements about training staff on digital accessibility, establishing guidelines for the procurement process, and implementing a digital accessibility complaint system.
These important developments will also support the University of Illinois’ system-wide efforts to improve digital accessibility. In the past year, the University of Illinois System has published its new System-Wide Electronic Information Technology Accessibility Policy Guide as well as its new System-Wide Electronic Information Technology Accessibility Implementation Guidelines. Both will help steer UIC’s future work to ensure digital accessibility.
“It has been a pleasure collaborating with UIC, which has demonstrated its commitment to improving digital accessibility,” said Rachel M. Weisberg, attorney with Equip for Equality.
About Equip for Equality
Equip for Equality (EFE) is a private, not-for-profit entity designated in 1985 by the Governor to administer the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy System for safeguarding the rights of people with disabilities in Illinois. EFE is dedicated to expanding opportunities for people with disabilities to live full and independent lives by providing self-advocacy assistance, legal services, disability rights education, public policy advocacy and abuse investigations. For more information, go to equipforequality.org.
The University of Illinois Chicago is the city’s largest university and its only public Carnegie Research 1 institution. Its 16 academic colleges serve more than 34,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UIC is recognized as one of the best public universities and one of the most ethnically rich and culturally diverse campuses in the nation, located in the heart of Chicago, it is an integral part of the educational, technological and cultural fabric of one of the world’s greatest cities.
Last updated: November 16, 2021