Guidelines for Determining Accessibility in Emerging Technology

“Just as a school system would not design a new school without addressing physical accessibility, the implementation of emerging technology should always include planning for accessibility.” –United States Department of Education; Office for Civil Rights

When procuring emerging technology to use in the classroom, we must thoughtfully consider the accessibility of the technology to ensure that Auburn University continues to provide an equitable and inclusive learning environment for students with disabilities. Before deciding to use emerging technology, faculty and staff should consider the following questions as part of the assessment process.

  • How does the use of the technology enhance the learning experience for the students?
  • What benefits and opportunities are available to the students through the use of this technology?
  • Has the developer of the technology considered accessibility?
  • Can the technology easily be made accessible?
  • Is an equivalent, accessible technology already available?

If the new technology is not accessible and there is no equivalent, accessible technology already available, the following questions should be asked:


Will accommodations result in the same enhanced learning experience and/or benefits and opportunities as the new technology?

  • For example, an instructor cannot use inaccessible ebook readers in the classroom and assume that books on tape are an equitable accommodation for any students with disabilities. In this case, the enhanced learning experience, benefits, and opportunities provided by the ebook reader would not be available to the students with disabilities, resulting in a discriminatory and inequitable learning environment. A more appropriate accommodation may be the use of light-weight tablet computers, which can also access the ebooks and use assistive technology, such as text to speech software and accessible controls for navigating the computer.


Can the accommodations be made in a timely and efficient manner?

  • For example, a teacher plans to utilize an online forum for discussions of course material outside of class. The course material includes video clips. The teacher posts the video clips to the course website, but also posts audio descriptions of each video clip. Assistive technology allows sight impaired students to access the links for the audio descriptions as quickly and easily as the sighted students can access the video clips. The teacher ensures that the audio descriptions are posted at the same time as the video clips, so that the sight impaired students have the same time frame with which to review the material as the other students in the course.


The guidelines above are based on the document “Frequently Asked Questions about the June 29, 2010, Dear Colleague Letter” released on May 26, 2011. To see the document in its entirety please visit the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights website.

To view Auburn University's policy on Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility, please visit the policy database.

If you have questions regarding the accessibility of technology you or your department are considering, please contact the Office of Accessibility