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All university communications, whether in the context of classrooms or public messaging, must be equally accessible, by law. More importantly, it is our duty as public educators and thought leaders to provide equal access to information.

As a higher education institution, we must be vigilant regarding the ever-changing landscape of emerging technologies used in classrooms and public communication. All content creators within the university community—faculty, staff, and students—have a duty to become familiar with the legal and ethical requirements outlined here.

The university is responsible for:

  • Providing resources, information, and education regarding best practices and methods for making communications accessible and
  • Ensuring that existing communications meet or exceed accessibility standards.

State Legislature Efforts

In 2014, the state legislature directed the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) to convene an accessibility task force charged with developing minimum criteria for public institutions of higher education that ensure accessibility to electronic instructional materials for persons with disabilities.

UT System Efforts

UT President Joe DiPietro formed an accessibility study group in 2014 to research best practices and offer recommendations regarding how the UT system’s campuses and administration should respond to the state accessibility task force recommendations.

In January 2015, the accessibility study group published its report and recommendations for the campuses.