How accessible are Google Apps?

NC State University provides Google Apps Accessibility Usage Guidelines.

Technology, often associated with helping to make life easier and more accessible, isn’t always as usable for some as others, accessibility researchers say. And with Google Apps quickly becoming a go-to solution for schools and colleges nationwide, it’s critical to know exactly how accessible these apps are for students with disabilities.

The Access Technology Higher Education Network (ATHEN), a professional association whose purpose is to collect and disseminate best practices in accessible technology for colleges and universities, has performed a number of functional tests on various Google applications, including Google Docs, GMail, and Calendar.

And though researcher and technology accessibility specialist Terrill Thompson at the University of Washington says that many improvements have been made, these efforts largely have targeted screen reader users and have not considered people with other types of disabilities.…Read More

Taking the next step with open source

Here’s how to assess an open-source community.

By now everyone knows that open-source software can be a cheaper alternative to proprietary software, though there are costs associated with hosting and support. So, how can you tell if open-source software might be a good fit for your campus?

According to Ken Ingle, executive director of emerging technology at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, N.C., there are a set of considerations every school should use to determine its fit with open source, as well as a rubric to make implementation as effective as possible.

“We’ve come a long way since the stereotype of a bearded nerd sitting over a computer in a dark basement somewhere using code,” said Ingle during the “Making the Case for Open Source” session at the 2012 EDUCAUSE conference in Denver, Colo. “By now, most of us know that open source is free software, shared and developed by a community for the betterment of the community as a whole.”…Read More