Oregon Institute of Technology’s website was ranked seventh in the nation in an article published in the Dec. 12, 2010 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education for accessibility to blind and visually impaired students who utilize text-to-speech readers.
Oregon Tech’s current website was developed internally by its information-technology team with input from website users. According to Alan Wallace, OIT’s webmaster, “When this version of the site was built in 2008, special attention was paid to following best practices as far as web design was concerned, which, incidentally, led to more accessible web pages.”
Subsequent updates to the OIT website have been made with accessibility in mind. Wallace noted, “We also taught our content editors to use alternate text with images, which is one of the criteria for accessibility. While accessibility was not the primary driver of our website design, it was something that was in our minds all the way through the design and development process.”
The website survey was conducted by Jon Gunderson, coordinator of assistive communication and information technology accessibility at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Gunderson reviewed university home pages, main pages from admissions offices and colleges of liberal arts, as well as all other pages with links on those primary sites at 183 colleges and institutions for accessibility to the blind and visually handicapped communities.
Dr. Chris Maples, president of OIT, said, “Oregon Tech makes every effort to serve our entire student body, including those who require specific accommodations at our brick-and-mortar campuses as well as those who attend class online via distance education. Our mission is to help students succeed by obtaining a college degree and moving on to gainful employment or graduate education."
Maples added, “Most students self-identify, so once we know who they are and what they need to succeed, we work with them to obtain the software, appropriately formatted texts, or whatever they may require to help them succeed. I am very proud of the work that our staff and faculty have done to make our website so highly ranked in this study.”
About Oregon Tech
Founded in Klamath Falls in 1947, Oregon Institute of Technology is one of seven institutions in the Oregon University System, and the only public institute of technology in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon Tech provides degree programs in engineering and health technologies, management, communications and applied sciences that prepare students to be effective participants in their professional, public and international communities through hands-on learning. Oregon Tech’s main campus is in Klamath Falls; other sites are located in Portland, La Grande and Seattle.