Michigan State University Usability/Accessibility Research and Consulting (MSU UARC) offers a range of services to universities, colleges, and other educational institutions to ensure that they meet the needs of their students, faculty, staff, and grantors, and meet legal/ADA requirements.
Making sure students, faculty, and staff with disabilities are able to fully utilize systems and services is critical to successfully run an educational institution. The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights and U.S. Department of Justice have found that educational institution websites, digital resources, and course materials must meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA requirements to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
High-Level Accessibility Evaluations
Experts manually evaluate your website or digital content for critical accessibility violations. Great first step in accessibility compliance, and ideal for determining accessibility of potential purchases.
Full Accessibility Evaluations
Detailed manual accessibility inspection of your website or digital content, which will find issues not caught by automated scanners. The best way to ensure ADA/WCAG 2.0 AA compliance!
One-on-one testing with users with disabilities to ensure that they find your services easy to use.
Expert assistance in developing IT accessibility/ADA policies and implementation strategies.
Ensure that your students, faculty, and staff can easily use the online and digital services you offer. If they have difficulty using your systems and services, they won't use them correctly (if at all)!
High-Level Usability Reviews
Brief expert evaluation or user feedback about your website or digital content's navigation, layout, and aesthetics. A budget-friendly alternative to in-depth reviews, and great first step into usability..
In-Depth Expert Reviews
Detailed expert evaluation of your website or service with recommendations for improvements.
User Focus Groups
Learn about your users' goals and what they think about your website or digital service in order to ensure that your offerings meet their needs.
Discover what happens when real users interact with your services, and get expert analysis and recommendations for enhancement. The ideal way to ensure that your content works for your users!
Find out how to structure your content to ensure that it meets your users' expectations.
Design, content, and evaluation strategy assistance, and competitive insights from experts.
Background Check Systems
MSU UARC developed, hosts, and maintains the Michigan Workforce Background Check system, which can be customized for your institution to conduct background checks.
Examples of Education Projects
MSU Usability/Accessibility Research and Consulting (MSU UARC) is an internationally known resource for accessibility policy and technical expertise. Director Sarah Swierenga has served on the committees that wrote the current legal standards for IT accessibility in the United States, and is a Certified Professional Ergonomist. Assistant Director Graham Pierce and Dr. Swierenga are on federal and state government working groups related to accessibility. MSU UARC works with universities, community colleges, academic libraries, academic IT units, government agencies, and Fortune 500 multinational corporations to advise on accessibility policy, strategy, and legal issues related to ADA/OCR requirements, as well as to conduct accessibility compliance evaluations to ensure compliance with those requirements. MSU UARC also assists clients to ensure that the needs of all users are met by conducting usability evaluations, information architecture analyses, and by advising on user-centered design of technologies. The examples below are drawn from recent projects in higher education, and represent only a small fraction of the work that we do.
Michigan State University Departments and Administration
MSU UARC has worked with over two dozen departments, colleges, centers, and other units at Michigan State University on a variety of projects, including ADA/WCAG 2.0 AA accessibility evaluations of websites, software, and mobile apps; usability reviews; focus groups; information architecture evaluations; and surveys. MSU UARC was integral in developing the accessibility policies and standards in use at Michigan State University today and is currently assisting in revising standards to meet modern challenges and expectations. We actively advise administrators, staff, and others through a variety of committees and partnerships throughout the university.
Big Ten Academic Alliance, MSU Libraries, and MSU Procurement
MSU UARC works with the BTAA, MSU Libraries, and MSU IT Services to help ensure that digital services and products that are considered for purchase are accessible. We conduct rapid, high-level evaluations of potential purchases and advise on their overall accessibility and potential impacts on users with different disabilities to allow purchasers to make informed decisions about procurement.
Textbooks and Learning Management Systems
MSU UARC has conducted accessibility and usability evaluations for multiple major publishing companies and learning management systems. Clients include Elsevier B.V., EduGuide, LON-CAPA, MSU Press, and others which cannot be named due to non-disclosure agreements. We also advise on the appropriate use of EPUB, PDF, and other formats in educational and administrative contexts.
MSU UARC has received research grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Michigan Health Endowment Fund, and other major funders. MSU UARC works with university and community partners on research projects, including over a dozen departments, colleges, and units at Michigan State University, Yale University, Sparrow Health System, and St. Joseph Mercy Health System.
Other Projects and Collaborations
MSU UARC has also worked with the University of Michigan, Western Michigan University, Lansing Community College, Washtenaw Community College, the Geriatric Education Center of Michigan, Information Technology Empowerment Center, International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement, and a wide variety of others.