Winter 2018 Newsletter

Western Enters Voluntary Resolution Agreements on Disability Issues

In 2017, Western entered into two Voluntary Resolution Agreements (VRAs) with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR). These VRAs enhance Western’s commitment to equal opportunity for people with disabilities and enhance services for people with disabilities who are part of the Western community.

Web Accessibility

The first VRA relates to the accessibility of Western’s websites for individuals with disabilities. As outlined in the VRA, the University developed a plan to ensure all new content on Western’s websites is accessible, completed a full assessment of the accessibility of the University’s current websites, and outlined how Western will address all identified accessibility barriers by July 2019. As part of these efforts, Western hired two new staff members in WebTech dedicated to increasing accessibility of the University’s websites. Western instituted an Accessibility Training that is required for all employees who create and maintain digital content, and created a new website ( with resources and information for students, faculty, and staff about digital accessibility. The website provides a vehicle for reporting web accessibility barriers on the University’s websites, and all web pages contain a link to Western’s accessibility notice.


The second VRA focuses on accommodations in University Residences for students with disabilities. Western adopted a procedure to ensure comparable, convenient, and accessible housing for students with disabilities, and providing for that housing at the same cost as housing for students without disabilities. Western provided training about these policies and procedures to all relevant staff. The Residential Community Standards provide information about reasonable accommodations and service and emotional support animals in University Residences.

Screenshot of Digital Accessibility homepage WebTech is leading an important effort to increase the accessibility of Western’s websites and digital content for people with disabilities. The Western Digital Accessibility website provides resources for faculty and staff to make university web pages, digital documents, and media accessible, and explains many of the reasons why digital accessibility is important.

As the website says: “Many accessibility features are essential to web users with disabilities, but these features can benefit everyone. Consider the following examples:

  • Good color contrast and larger fonts are easier to read for individuals with vision-related disabilities, and can also help individuals in the aging population, or anyone using a computer for hours at a time. We all experience eye fatigue at some point in the day.

  • While captioned videos are accessible to individuals who are deaf or have hearing loss, captions are also beneficial to anyone learning English as a second language, and to someone in a noisy environment that doesn’t have headphones."

Resources provided by WebTech’s web accessibility team include:

For questions or guidance about web accessibility, contact Carly Gerard, Web Accessibility Developer or David Engebretson Jr., Digital Technologies Accessibility Coordinator. Their contact information is at

Page Updated 03.06.2018