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ACADEMIC COMPUTING SERVICES AND ACCESSIBILITY
This document is intended to describe the policies, practices and procedures for providing accessible customer service as outlined in the AODA, including the use of assistive devices and other assistive measures for Academic Computing at the OCAD University. Academic Computing is a part of IT Services that primarily serves Students, Faculty and Research with client computing in the form of Computer Studios, Mobile Computing Support, and Networked and Web Services. In this document, Academic Computing refers to the staff and management, and IT Services refers to staff and management in the entire department including Information Systems and Network and Data Centre Operations who provide infrastructure support for client computing.
2.0 Computer Studios and Clusters
2.1 Standard Practices
The following accessibility considerations are standard practice in undergraduate Computer Studios:
- Accessible Room Layout: Computer workstations are arranged around the edge of a room to facilitate wheelchairs or other mobility devices.
- Adjustable-height chairs are provided in most, if not all Computer Studios as per the recommendation of the Ministry of Labour: http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/comp_erg/gl_comp_erg_2.php
- On Mac OS X, desktop shortcuts to the accessibility features of the computer are provided. Mac OS X has excellent built-in accessibility options, and performs Text-to-Speech natively in the Safari or Firefox
2.2 Accessibility Workstations
Several workstations on campus are provided with enhanced Accessibility hardware and software including:
- Text-to-Speech Software
- Speech-to-Text Software
- Mind mapping Software
- Flatbed scanner with an ADF (high use areas) or without ADF
- Headsets are available from AV Loans or the IT Helpdesk
Accessibility workstations are located in the following areas:
- Library (113 McCaul)
- Learning Zone (113 McCaul)
- 317g (100 McCaul)
- Centre for Students with Disabilities (51 McCaul)
2.3 Exam Accommodations
OCAD University can facilitate exam accommodations for students in the CSD at 51 McCaul and the 317g Computer Studio simultaneously, with multiple workstations in each with the assistive software.
3.0 Laptop Program & Mobile Devices
3.1 Standard Practice
OCAD University operates a very successful mandatory Laptop Program for all students in Graphic Design, Advertising, Material Art & Design, Industrial Design and Environmental Design. Many students with accessibility needs utilize these services. Students use the Laptop Help Desk (Room 664) primarily to get help on their computers, borrow or return equipment, retrieve software or check-in their computer for software reimaging. Students are greeted by a full-time Help Desk Assistant, Class Assistant or Student Monitor, and asked how they can be helped. Any questions that cannot be immediately answered are escalated up to the most senior person in the Help Desk. If it is a technical problem for resolution, they are referred to the Laptop Technicians. If the question relates to policy, procedure or practice, they refer to the Manager, AV & IT Help Desk or to the Manager, Academic Computing.
A number of students at OCAD University who require an accommodation through the Centre for Students with Disabilities (CSD) can choose to join the Laptop Program. Students can join the program such that they can be supported by OCAD University through the Help Desk for standard software imaging including the creativity and productivity software required by the curriculum. The Help Desk images their computers initially, and provides on-going support for the base software image with the CSD providing support for the special assistive technology software.
3.2 Reimaging Service
- Students present their student username, computer and student card at the Help Desk during opening hours. Their username determines whether they are qualified for support.
- Students must fill out a reimaging form which identifies the student, computer and confirms that students have backed up their computer, and gains authorization for us to erase the computer.
- Students leave their computer with the Help Desk. They are told approximately when their computer will be ready, and can check back in person or by phone to see if it has been completed.
- Computers are returned with the standard Core Software suite plus any additional software for the given program area in the Laptop Program.
- Assistive software belongs to the student, and is determined by the CSD, and thus is the responsibility of the student to install with support from the CSD.
3.3 Borrowing / Returning Items
- Students present their student card at the Help Desk during opening hours. Students are required to sign a Loan Agreement which communicates their responsibilities.
- If the student wishes to borrow a computer, they must present a repair slip indicating that their current computer is not functioning. IT Services has a limited number of loaner computers with assistive software and designated peripherals. As needed and determined by the CSD, IT Services can make this technology available to any student.
- Student picks up the borrowed item. They are told exactly when the item is due.
- If the student is returning, the item is checked in.
3.4 Personal Devices
IT Services staff will assist with personal assistive devices that use Information Communications Technology (ICT) through our Help Desk counters on campus. Through consultation with students, IT Services staff will strive to maintain familiarity with the most common personal devices used by students. If the personal device is does not use ICT, students will be referred to the Centre for Students with Disabilities for assistance.
Students who require network and/or internet on a personal technology device (laptop, smart phone or other device) that may or may not use assistive technology but is required as an accommodation, IT Services will facilitate unrestricted student use of these devices on campus. The CSD provides IT Services with lists of individuals to provide access to as appropriate.
4.0 Web Accessibility of Communication and Applications
4.1 Standard Practices
Academic Computing is familiar with web accessibility guidelines as laid out by the W3C Consortium WCAG, and strives in all of its development to incorporate advisory techniques into web development. The University will continue to review current websites and incorporate advisory techniques as sites are refreshed, and as standards change.
4.2 Web Communication
IT Services supports and uses OCAD University’s content management system which incorporates accessibility features for WCAG. Options for descriptive text for video content is currently being explored jointly with Visual Resources.
4.3 Web Applications
Academic Computing takes into consideration Level A WCAG Guidelines when developing core applications and will consider statements of accessibility when supporting external applications. It has been the practice of OCAD University Academic Computing to avoid the use of Adobe Flash for the use of its core applications due to the inherent issues of making Flash web content accessible, though this has been improved in Flash CS4 and Flash Player 10. Options for descriptive text for video content is currently being explored jointly with Visual Resources.
5.0 Service Animals and Support Persons
Academic Computing has no specific policies, practices or procedures for support persons or service animals and follows OCAD University’s Accessibility Policy at http://www.ocad.ca/
6.0 Temporary Service Disruptions
6.1 Standard Practice
IT Services meets on a regular basis to discuss any service interruptions as it relates to Network, Server or Computer Studio services and how this affects all users. Some kinds of Network maintenance affect user account authentication, and therefore access to regular and designated accessibility workstations.
Academic Computing is rolling out a System Status tool that provides instant information on the current status of systems to its public website located at http://www.ocad.ca/it on the OCAD University website.
IT Services will notify users at least 48 hours in advance of any scheduled maintenance, and will publicly post in an area conspicuous to students where that maintenance interrupts access to workstations. Locations of posting include on-campus managed computer desktop backgrounds and the OCAD University IT Services website at http://www.ocad.ca/it. IT Services always posts the services affected and the duration. IT Services reserves a maintenance window on any Friday between 5:00pm – 12:00am. Any scheduled maintenance lasting longer than this duration becomes Emergency Maintenance.
In an emergency, IT Services must reboot, power-cycle or take other measures to restore partially or fully unavailable Network, Server or Computer Studio services. In these circumstances, if the service is offline for brief period of time that would only constitute a minor delay for end-users, IT Services will not proactively notify end-users.
However, if the service interruption is anticipated to last longer, is undiagnosed or continuing, IT Services will notify:
- Student users via http://www.ocad.ca/it
- Faculty, Library and Learning Zone via email
- All users via our on-campus Help Desks
7.1 Academic Technicians & Class Assistants
Full-time staff all participated in on-campus training delivered by the Diversity & Equity Office or completed the online training. In addition, full-time staff participated in a mandatory training and consultation on the training process for student monitors and assisted with documentation. Academic Computing developed specific training for new staff or student monitors which is mandatory.
7.2 Student Monitors
Academic Computing developed a specific documentation process for student monitors due to the complexity and specificity of the content. Students are required to complete the online training, and in addition, watch video content that describes what kind of assistive software is available, where it is, and who it benefits. Students are then required to sign a form stating that they have viewed the content, and understand it such that if they were approached by someone on campus requiring it, they could easily direct the person appropriately. The training is required on an annual basis.
8.0 Feedback Process
8.1 Standard Practice
Customer service feedback is important to IT Services at OCAD University, as the best support for technology is the kind that focuses on our users. Students, faculty and staff can volunteer feedback to IT Services in several ways.
- In person to any of the on-campus Help Desks in writing (create form) or verbally
- In person verbally to the Manager, Academic Computing (634, 100 McCaul Street) or Manager, AV & IT Help Desk (320, 100 McCaul Street)
- By phone to the Manager, Academic Computing (416.977.6000 x304) or Manager, AV & IT Help Desk (416.977.6000 x441)
- By email to the Manager, Academic Computing (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Manager, AV & IT Help Desk (email@example.com)
- Online at http://www.ocad.ca/it under Feedback
IT Service also solicits feedback from either a portion of or the entire community at least once annually in one of the following methods using a web survey.
- Academic Computing Services all Student and Faculty Annual Survey
- Laptop Program Student Survey
- Other student and faculty research on proposed services
Students are welcome to respond to the survey invitation email and provide feedback.