Think about the technology you use most often. How does it work? What does it do? What would happen if your technology just stopped working one day? What if all of the buttons and sliders and controls just disappeared? What if the display became too small to read, or too dim? What if text content was presented out of order and all of the images were missing? What if there was no display at all? If you relied on that technology to do your job, participate in your class, or communicate with others, you would be unable to get things done. You wouldn’t say that the technology was "inaccessible"—you would say that it didn’t work.
For some users, these questions are not hypothetical. Digital technologies routinely lack features that support use by users with disabilities and users of assistive technologies. If the technology you provide doesn’t work for all users, it’s your responsibility to fix it: get it up and running, make it work, make it right. You can be ready for that moment by creating an Equally Effective Alternate Access Plan for software you provide and support.
What goes into an EEAAP?
- Information about the inaccessible technology (e.g., title, vendor, contact, audience)
- What are the potential barriers to access (e.g., inaccessible keyboard, missing ALT text, missing captions); these may be determined via:
- Technology Review Process (vendor disclosure, VPAT/ACR)
- In-house or third-party testing
- Discovery after acquisition and deployment
- Who is likely to be affected by accessibility issues, and how?
- What is the role of the user (e.g., student, faculty/staff, administrator, public)
- How might accessibility issues impact the user (e.g., missing captions deny context to user who is deaf)
- How will the responsible party provide alternative means of completing the task or process?
- What tasks will be required?
- What resources will be required?
- Who is responsible for implementing the EEAAP?
- Job role and contact information for the responsible party should be readily available in the event that a user experiences a barrier to access
- The responsible party should already be familiar with, and ready to execute, the EEAAP
- How will the vendor or technology provider correct accessibility issues in their product?
- Who will communicate the issues to the vendor?
- In what order will the vendor address the issues?
- What is the timeline for correcting the issues?
When to create an Equally Effective Alternate Access Plan
An EEAAP may be appropriate in several scenarios. Create an EEAAP if:
- Your technology is in wide use, and particularly if the technology is public facing
- Your technology is required for classroom, program, or other participation
- You will distribute or employ the technology for multiple semesters or years
- You are unable to obtain accessible technology that meets your needs
- You identify a potential accessibility barrier in your current technology
No technology is 100% accessible; therefore ITS recommends that units develop an EEAAP for any new technologies, and consider developing EEAAPs in support of existing technologies. An EEAAP is especially indicated when a technology contains known accessibility defects, which are often exposed by an Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR), during user testing, or by vendor disclosure.
Because accessibility defects may emerge after a product has been deployed, the EEAAP should be considered a living document, subject to review and revision as circumstances change.