Michigan State University Usability/Accessibility Research and Consulting (MSU UARC) offers a range of consulting services to universities, colleges, and K-12 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 evaluate your website or digital content for critical accessibility violations. Great first step in accessibility compliance, and ideal for procurement (determining accessibility of potential purchases).
Full Accessibility Evaluations
Detailed manual accessibility inspections (which will find issues not caught by automated scanners) of your website or digital content. The best way to ensure ADA compliance!
One-on-one testing with users with disabilities to ensure that they find your services easy to use.
Expert assistance in developing accessibility/ADA strategies and policies.
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 a 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. 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 and upcoming 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 and usability. MSU UARC works with universities, MSU departments and units, Fortune 500 multinational corporations, state and county agencies, and non-profits to advise on accessibility and usability 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 staff are active members of the User Experience Professionals Association, and frequently present on their usability research at international conferences.
Michigan State University
MSU UARC has worked with over two dozen departments, colleges, centers, and other units at Michigan State University on a variety of consulting projects, including accessibility evaluations, 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 actively advises administrators, staff, and others through a variety of committees and partnerships.
Big Ten Academic Alliance, MSU Libraries, and MSU IT Services
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.
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. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Center for Civic Design, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, Michigan Department of Community Health, 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, the University of Michigan, 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, 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, from Fortune 500 multinational corporations to non-profits to government agencies.