UH Guidelines for Accessible Technology and Digital Media

The University of Hawai’i values the diversity of its campus as well as the members of the community who seek access to information about the university and its programs, services and employment. This equal opportunity commitment includes access to information technology developed, procured and/or used by the university, such as websites, software, hardware and media, including third-party and social media. Information technology can promote equal participation in university programs and services, however, it can also contain unintended barriers for individuals with disabilities.

Universal Design for All

Accessible technology is technology for all. It is best achieved during the design phase as an inherent element of website or educational technology design and development. Accessible design employs clear navigational structures, consistency and simplicity. It is designed to be accessed by all users, including those who rely on captioning, screen readers, magnification, speech recognition and other assistive technologies due to visual, physical, perceptual or learning disabilities. Images and graphics require appropriate alt attributes with descriptive text. All forms and documents must be accessible. Accessible technology benefits people who use mobile devices with small screens, those who only utilize a keyboard as well as the many individuals with declining visual acuity.

Accessible Information Communication Technology (ICT)

UH is committed to ensuring that our communications with individuals with disabilities are as equally effective as our communications with individuals without disabilities. With respect to these guidelines, “accessible” ICT means a person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to access the same information and services as a person without a disability in an equally effective and integrated manner. A person with a disability should be able to obtain an accurate, accessible version in an independent, and timely manner. Although this might not result in an experience identical to that of a person without disabilities, the alternate version still must ensure equal access to the educational materials, benefits and opportunities afforded by the technology.

UH has developed guidelines to ensure equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.


The applicable guidance is the World Wide Web standards defined in the Federal Rehabilitation Act Section 508, specifically subsections 1194.22 and subsection 1194.31. Section 508 is the standard for federal government websites and technology. UH looks to this standard for reliable guidance on meeting accessibility commitments and compliance.

This standard was recently refreshed to include Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), a globally recognized voluntary consensus standard for web content and information communication technology created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard and the Web Accessibility Initiative Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite (WAI-ARIA) 1.0 techniques for web content, shall be used to measure accessibility and functionality of on-line content.

WCAG provides recommendations for content accessibility. It is, however, no substitute for human decision making that would produce better outcomes. The university’s primary obligation is to ensure a high quality user experience for all users, including those with disabilities.

Implementation Plan

Each campus will need to develop priorities, taking into account feasibility, funding, technical capacity and staff training needs. Priority should be given to creating accessible web pages and resources for core institutional information such as the main campus website, admissions, and student services information. The following priorities are suggested:

Priority 1

  • All new or revised web pages and other digital media resources (e.g., newsletter, campus announcements, etc.) published, hosted, provided by or otherwise representing the university should be made accessible at the time of creation or revision.
  • The top 20% of existing web pages and resources most frequently used (e.g., that get the largest number of hits) are a top priority for modification.
  • “Critical path” applications or functions (e.g., Admissions and Records, student services and employee policies and benefits, etc.) should be also placed in the first priority for review. These should be identified in consultation with knowledgeable members of the campus community.
  • Pages and resources required for participation, funding, disability-related services and other key information or functions needed by people with disabilities, not already in the top 20% should be reviewed.
  • Develop a corrective action strategy based on priorities, feasibility and resources.
  • Develop and prominently post a procedure for reporting complaints of web and ICT accessibility barriers.
  • All new videos must include effective captioning of content.

Priority 2

  • Any remaining pages and resources providing core institutional information and/or functions should be reviewed and made accessible in accordance with the campus plan.
  • Provide training to all levels of faculty and staff who modify websites or use information and communication technology in their instruction (e.g. how to prepare accessible PDF and Word files).
  • Review procurement practices; develop procurement and RFP criteria and procedures.
  • Review electronic equipment that serves the public (e.g. information kiosks, public use library terminals, security call boxes, ATMs, etc.).
  • Schedule and conduct regular accessibility audits of electronic and information technology.

Priority 3

  • All other web pages and resources, including social media, should be reviewed and included in the plan.
  • Include ADA accessibility knowledge and skills as a “Desirable Qualification” in information technology, communications and related job descriptions.
  • Encourage faculty members in computer science, business administration, education technology, etc. to cover accessible design in their teaching.

Prompt Interim Accommodations Upon Request

  • Upon specific request, information on legacy web pages and digital media resources is to be made available to any individual needing access to such content, by revision or otherwise. The department or unit responsible for the creation of the information on the web is responsible for providing alternate formats.
  • Web pages or digital media resources specifically requested to be made accessible as part of a formal accommodation request shall be made accessible as soon as possible, or an equally effective alternative shall be provided when it is technically, financially, and administratively unfeasible. Equally effective means that the format communicates the same information and provides the equivalent functions in as timely a fashion as does the web pages or digital media resources without negatively impacting student success or employee effectiveness.

Procurement of Accessible ICT Products or Services

The university is committed to purchasing, using, maintaining and implementing the most accessible solutions possible. It is unacceptable to use emerging technology without requiring this technology be accessible to all. To help ensure the university meets this goal, faculty and staff who have the ability to purchase, the responsibility to influence or make decisions on products to purchase must consider ICT access as one of the criteria for acquisition. This is critical for enterprise-level systems and other technologies that affect a large number of students, employees and/or the public.

  • Ask the vendor to provide information about the accessibility of the products or services. They may already have a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT), which will give you information about the product’s accessibility. However, simply obtaining a VPAT is not a guarantee.
  • Ask the vendor to demonstrate the accessibility of the products or services.
  • Have an ICT accessibility expert review and evaluate ICT accessibility requirements and expectations with the selected supplier before purchase.
  • Include accessibility assurances in contracts with vendors.

IT Technical Assistance

UH ITS Accessibility
Email: itsada@hawaii.edu or call the ITS Help Desk at (808) 956-8883.

Campus IT Contacts

  • UH Mānoa/Office of Communications – Web Operations, Colin Macdonald: (808) 956-5849; colin@hawaii.edu
  • UH Hilo IT Specialist/Web Master, Sunny Walker: (808) 932-7666; swalker@hawaii.edu
  • UH West O‘ahu IT Director, Therese Nakadomari: (808) 689-2414; therese@hawaii.edu
  • UH Community Colleges (CC) Web Application Development Manager, Paul Sakamoto: (808) 956-9566; paulsaka@hawaii.edu
    • Hawai‘i CC External Affairs/Relation Coordinator, Thatcher Moats: (808) 934-2506; tmoats@hawaii.edu
    • Honolulu CC Design Center Specialist, Todd Kobayashi: (808) 845-9246; tkoby@hawaii.edu
    • Kapi‘olani CC Web Developer, Raphael Lowe: (808) 734-9560; mobile@hawaii.edu
    • Kaua‘i CC Webmaster, Maritza Mandarino: (808) 245-8217; maritza9@hawaii.edu
    • Leeward CC Director of Marketing, Tad Saiki: (808) 455-0531; tads@hawaii.edu
    • Maui College Director of Marketing, Kit Zulueta: (808) 984-3398; zulu@hawaii.edu
    • Windward CC Media Design Specialist, Michael McIntosh: (808) 235-7308; mcintos@hawaii.edu

For advice on student auxiliary aids and services, contact your campus disability services office. For employee disability accommodations, contact your campus ADA coordinator.


A complete list of resources can be found on our Resources page.