Accessible Communication, Publications, and Advertising

WSU will make every good faith effort to ensure that individuals with disabilities requiring alternate format communications have meaningful access and an equal opportunity to participate in our services, activities, programs, and other benefits. The goal is to ensure meaningful communication with those members of the WSU community with disabilities, including: students, faculty, staff, and others having an association with WSU through accessible advertising, forms, publications, websites, audio clips, mass communication systems, and videos.

WSU units should provide accessible communication for publications, advertising, and vital documents. All accessible alternate format publications, advertisements, and vital documents shall be provided without cost to the person being served. Individuals should be informed that such alternate formats are available free of charge.

Accessible communications assistance should be provided through use of competent staff, contracts, or formal arrangements with service providers, or appropriate accessible technology solutions. WSU units should provide all staff that may have direct contact with individuals with disabilities requiring alternate format communications with notice of these guidelines and training on effective communication techniques, including the effective use of interpreter, translation, and accessible technology services.

Questions about these guidelines and related policies may be directed to WSU Compliance and Civil Rights at 509-335-8288 or emailed to

Responsibility for Making Publications and Advertisements Accessible

Ensuring that all WSU publications and advertisements are accessible to those with disabilities requires coordination across campus; however, primary responsibility for accessibility falls on the WSU unit originating the publication or advertisement. Publications and advertisements made publicly available via electronic technology must be accessible. Departments must make a good faith effort to provide accessible format for all other publications and advertisements upon request.

Cost of Accessible Format Publications

Accessibility costs should be considered as part of the overall expense of publications and advertisements and should be anticipated as a potential budget item. Many publications and advertisements can be made in an accessible format at little or no cost, such as choosing a format that is compatible with commonly available assistive technology and software (e.g. tagged PDFs or rich text format files); however, some accessible formats may incur a cost, such as braille translation. Department staff should discuss alternative funding sources with their supervisor if the cost of a requested accommodation exceeds the project’s budget allowance. Department staff and supervisors must consult with WSU Compliance and Civil Rights or the WSU ADA Coordinator prior to denying any request for an accessible format publication. For employee requests for accessible format publications, department staff and supervisors should consult with Human Resource Services. For student requests, relating to academic publications, the Access Center should also be consulted.

Vital Documents

Vital documents are: “Paper or electronic written materials that contain information that is critical for accessing a WSU unit’s programs, services, benefits, or activities; directly and substantially related to public safety; or required by law.”

Each WSU unit is responsible for determining which of their documents are considered “vital” because the unit is in the best position to evaluate its circumstances, services, and resources. Units should consider the consequence to individuals with disabilities if the information in question is not provided in an accurate or timely manner.  Units should set benchmarks for providing alternative formats for vital documents over time and should continue to assess these needs at least on an annual basis.

Vital documents may be those meant for the general public or a broad audience, or they may be specific communications regarding a matter between the unit and an individual. If the unit is working with an individual with an identified need for accessible format documents, the unit must make every good faith effort to provide vital documents to that individual in an accessible format.

Vital documents may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Policy notices
  • Waivers of rights
  • Release of Information forms
  • Consent to treatment forms
  • Financial and insurance benefit forms
  • Syllabi

Accessible Digital Communications

Each WSU unit is responsible for ensuring that its public web pages are compliant with Executive Policy 7 (EP 7) – Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) Accessibility Policy, and BPPM 85.55: Ensuring Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility.

Each WSU Unit should implement a web accessibility plan to regularly review and maintain appropriate web accessibility standards as defined in EP 7. This may include:

  • Identifying the employees responsible for maintaining the unit’s web pages and providing web accessibility training to those employees
  • Identifying which web pages are under the control of the unit
  • Developing a process to review each web page for accessibility standards
  • Developing a plan to bring older web pages into compliance and to ensure that new content is compliant, which may also include determining which websites provide vital information and/or receive greater traffic

WSU’s Digital Accessibility Assessment is a great resource in supporting your understanding of digital accessibility core concepts, relevant university policies, and your digital accessibility responsibility.