Knowledgebase: Students and Faculty
Academic Computing Services and Accessibility
Updated: 20 November 2020 01:10 PM

1.0 Introduction

This document is intended to describe the policies, practices and procedures for providing accessible customer service as outlined in the AODA, including the use of assistive devices and other assistive measures for Academic Computing at the OCAD University. Academic Computing is a part of IT Services that primarily serves Students, Faculty and Research with client computing in the form of Computer Studios, Mobile Computing Support, and Networked and Web Services.

2.0 Computer Studios and Clusters

2.1 Standard Practice

The following accessibility considerations are standard practice in undergraduate Computer Studios:

2.2 Accessibility Hardware and Software

Accessibility in Windows 10 and macOS on all workstations

All macOS Workstations on campus have access to

  • Speech-to-Text Software (macOS Dictation)
  • Screen Reader (macOS VoiceOver)
  • Microsoft Windows for Kurzweil 3000 use

Students, Faculty and Staff can access a Kurzweil 3000 license for their personal laptop or desktop by browsing to OnTheHub.

Several dedicated workstations on campus are provided with Accessibility hardware and software including:

  • Text-to-Speech Software (Kurzweil 3000)
  • Speech-to-Text Software (macOS Dictation)
  • Flatbed scanner with an ADF (high use areas) or without ADF
  • Students must provide their own headsets

Accessibility workstations are located in the following areas:






113 McCaul - Library Quiet Room

1 x iMac

Kurzweil 3000



230 Richmond Level 8 - Student Accessibility Services

7 x iMacs

Kurzweil 3000



100 McCaul Room 664

15 x iMacs

Kurzweil 3000


Exam Accommodations

2.3 Exam Accommodations

OCAD University can facilitate exam accommodations for students in Student Accessibility Services and MCA 664 simultaneously, with multiple workstations in each with the assistive software.

3.0 Laptop Program and Mobile Devices

3.1 Standard Practice

OCAD University operates a very successful mandatory Laptop Program. Many students with accessibility needs utilize these services. Students use the Laptop Help Desk to get help on their computers, borrow or return equipment, retrieve software or check-in their computer for software re-imaging. Students are greeted by a full-time Help Desk Assistant or Student Monitor, and asked how they can be helped. Any questions that cannot be immediately answered are escalated up to the most senior person in the Help Desk. If it is a technical problem for resolution, they are referred to the Client Computing Administrators. If the question relates to policy, procedure or practice, they refer to the Manager, Client Services or to the Director, Academic Computing & Innovation.

Since 2014, all undergraduate students at OCAD University are part of the laptop program. Students are supported by OCAD University through the IT Help Desk for standard software imaging including the creativity and productivity software required by the curriculum, and we install Kurzweil 3000: students are still required to register for a Kurzweil 3000 Firefly account at OnTheHub. The ITHelp Desk images student laptops initially, and provides on-going support for the base software image with the Student Accessibility Services providing support for the special assistive technology software.

3.2 Software 

  • Most student software is now self-serve via the Laptop Program, and most students elect to install their own software. 
  • Students present their student username, computer and student card at the Help Desk during opening hours. Their username determines whether they are part of the program.
  • Students must fill out a reimaging form which identifies the student, computer and confirms that students have backed up their computer, and gains authorization for us to erase the computer.
  • Students leave their computer with the ITHelp Desk. They are told approximately when their computer will be ready, and can check back in person, via email or by phone to see if it has been completed.
  • Computers are returned with the standard Core Software suite plus any additional software for the given program area in the Laptop Program.
  • Assistive software belongs to the student, and is determined by their accessibility, and thus is the responsibility of the student to install with support from the Student Accessibility Services. The Service may approve:
    • Dragon NaturallySpeaking (PC and Mac)
    • Other assistive software/hardware based on psychoeducational assessments/medical documentation, intake assessment and our assistive technology assessments

3.3 Borrowing / Returning Items

  • Students present their student card at the IT Help Desk or AV Loans during opening hours. Students are required to sign a Loan Agreement which communicates their responsibilities.
  • If the student wishes to borrow a computer, they must present a repair slip indicating that their current computer is not functioning or a police report that it has been stolen. IT Services has a limited number of loaner computers with assistive software. As needed and determined by the CSD, IT Services can make this technology available to any student.
  • Student picks up the borrowed item. They are told exactly when the item is due.
  • If the student is returning, the item is checked in.
  • Students are bound by OCAD U policies regarding non-academic misconduct, including the use of OCAD U owned facilities and equipment as well as the Equipment Loan Guidelines.

3.4 Personal Devices

IT Services staff will assist with personal assistive devices that use Information Communications Technology (ICT) through our Help Desk counters on campus. Through consultation with students, IT Services staff will strive to maintain familiarity with the most common personal devices used by students. If the personal device is does not use ICT, students will be referred to Student Accessibility Services for assistance.

Students who require network and/or internet on a personal technology device (laptop, smartphone or other device) that may or may not use assistive technology but is required as an accommodation, IT Services will facilitate unrestricted student use of these devices on campus. Student Accessibility Services provides IT Services with lists of individuals to provide access to as appropriate. The SAS provides IT Services with lists of individuals to provide access to as appropriate

4.0 Web Accessibility of Communications and Applications

4.1 Standard Practice

Academic Computing is familiar with web accessibility guidelines as laid out by the W3C in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, and strives in all of its development to incorporate advisory Level AA techniques into web development. The University will continue to review current websites and incorporate advisory techniques as sites are refreshed, and as standards change.

4.2 Web Communication

IT Services supports and uses OCAD University’s content management system which incorporates accessibility features for WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). Options for descriptive text for video content is currently being explored jointly with Visual Resources.

4.3 Web Applications

Academic Computing takes into consideration WCAG 2.0 Level AA Guidelines when procuring or developing core applications and will consider statements of accessibility (VPATs) when supporting external applications.

5.0 Service Animals and Support Persons

Academic Computing has no specific policies, practices or procedures for support persons or service animals and follows OCAD University’s Accessibility Policy.

6.0 Temporary Service Disruptions

6.1 Standard Practice

IT Services meets on a regular basis to discuss any service interruptions as it relates to Network, Server or Computer Studio services and how this affects all users through our Change Advisory Board process (CAB). Maintenance can affect user account authentication, and therefore access to regular and designated accessibility workstations.

Scheduled Maintenance

  • IT Services typically notifies users at least one week in advance of any scheduled maintenance via email.
  • IT Services reserves a maintenance window on any Friday between 7:30am and 9:00am.
  • Any scheduled maintenance lasting longer than this duration becomes Emergency Maintenance.

Emergency Maintenance

In an emergency, IT Services must reboot, power-cycle or take other measures to restore partially or fully unavailable Network, Server or Computer Studio services. In these circumstances, if the service is offline for brief period of time that would only constitute a minor delay for end-users, IT Services will not proactively notify end-users.

However, if the service interruption is anticipated to last longer, is undiagnosed or continuing, IT Services will notify:

  • Student users via email
  • Social Media
  • All users via our on-campus Help Desks

7.0 Training

7.1 Academic Technicians & Class Assistants

Full-time staff all participated in on-campus training delivered by the Diversity & Equity Office or completed the online training. In addition, full-time staff participated in a mandatory training and consultation on the training process for student monitors and assisted with documentation. Academic Computing developed specific training for new staff or student monitors which is mandatory.

7.2 Student Monitors

Academic Computing developed a specific documentation process for student monitors due to the complexity and specificity of the content. Students are required to complete the online training, and in addition, watch video content that describes what kind of assistive software is available, where it is, and who it benefits. The training is required on an annual basis.

8.0 Feedback Process

8.1 Standard Practice

Customer service feedback is important to IT Services at OCAD University, as the best support for technology is the kind that focuses on our users. Students, faculty and staff can volunteer feedback to IT Services in several ways.

  • In person to any of the on-campus Help Desks in writing or verbally, or via email to
  • By email or phone to the Director, Academic Computing & Innovation (317, 100 McCaul Street) or Manager, Client Services (320, 100 McCaul Street)
  • By opening a ticket on the IT Support Site

IT Service also solicits feedback from either a portion of or the entire community at least once bi-annually in one of the following methods using a web survey. 

  • Laptop Program Student Survey
  • Teaching with Technology Faculty Survey
  • Other student and faculty research on proposed services

Students are welcome to respond to the survey invitation email and provide feedback.