According to CDC statistics, approximately 26 percent of the U.S. population is identified as having a disability. In 2020, that would equate to approximately 6,900 Clemson students and 1,500 Clemson employees. The Clemson Accessibility Web Portal (AWP) is a centralized accessibility resource for students, employees and visitors.
“Accessibility is about proactively designing products, services, and environments for audiences with a diverse range of hearing, sight, movement and cognitive abilities,” said Clemson Online’s accessibility coordinator, Michelle Tuten. “Put another way, it is incorporating solutions to problems experienced by people with disabilities to improve the user experience for everyone and to reduce the need for people with disabilities to spend extra time and energy seeking additional accommodations.”
The site is maintained by the Clemson University Accessibility Commission. Resources available in the Accessibility Portal are organized into three sections: Access, Learn, and Connect:
- In the Access section, resources regarding accommodations, reporting barriers, and accessing accommodations associated with sporting events can be found.
- The Learn section provides information about laws and design standards, guides for implementing accessible design, and access to several accessibility-related webinars and events. Designers, developers, and beginners will likely find this section very useful, Tuten said.
- In the last section, Connect, people can find contact information for the Clemson offices that support accessibility, information about the accessibility-related campus communities, information about external communities, and a link back to the earlier mentioned events section where accessibility-related conferences are also listed. According to Tuten, engaging with the groups in this part of the Portal is a great way to build confidence in the field of accessibility.
“Clemson University’s Accessibility Web Portal is such a great resource for all things related to accessibility for Clemson students, employees, and visitors. It’s a dynamic, comprehensive resource that shares information including the University’s accessibility services and how to report both physical and digital barriers to accessibility. It also provides training resources and opportunities to connect,” said Priscilla Harrison, Director of ADA Services and Compliance/ADA Coordinator.
“One great example of how the portal helps provide connections is its use to advertise National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which is celebrated every October. The Accessibility Commission, the Office of Access and Equity, and other departments plan such great events to celebrate NDEAM each year, and the portal provides a great medium to advertise these events.”
Acccording to Tuten using the Accessibility Portal to make Clemson more accessible is vital for students and employees with disabilities. She added that several students and employees may not disclose their disability to the University or seek accommodations. Alternatively, some students and employees may only be temporarily impaired with something like a broken arm or leg and may not consider themselves disabled or qualified for such accommodations. Also, a student or employee can become disabled at any moment and accommodation letters can just as easily cross an instructor or supervisor’s desk in the middle of the semester.
“And if all of that didn’t make it important enough, there are also laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1972 as well as Clemson’s Non-Discrimination Policy and ICT Accessibility Policy that make it important,” said Tuten.
Harrison cited the CDC statistics of one in four adults in the US identifying as having some type of disability, and added:
“We know these resources are needed and the University is committed to promoting accessibility, equal opportunity, and quality of life for persons with disabilities,” said Harrison. “When it comes down to it, that’s what it’s all about. We have an incredibly committed group of people at the University who are dedicated to increasing accessibility in their respective area of expertise. This work is important and makes a difference in the lives of so many. Disability impacts all of us and the portal is one important way we can stay in touch and keep accessibility and inclusion a top priority.”
Clemson University is committed to providing everyone with a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight, cognitive, and linguistic abilities the opportunity to access and participate in the Clemson experience. Whether you are a content author, developer, or person with a temporary, permanent, or situational impairment, the Accessibility Portal is designed to help.
Tuten urges everyone in the Clemson Family to spread the word about the Portal and the resources available there, and to let the Clemson University Accessibility Commission know if there are accessibility-related events, programs, and projects the Portal can advertise.