EDTECH 541: Accessible Computer Labs

This week I decided to write about the cost of accessible computer labs as it has been a topic that has come up in work projects I have been a part of in the past. There is a lot of high costs that many do not consider when building such computer labs, so I will start from the ground up.

For my example I’ll say we are preparing for a university computer lab with 30 separate units (computers). First step is designing the room so it can be easily accessed. This means the entrance or doorway is wide enough to accommodate all students, and the layout of the room will be designed so any student can easily navigate to any computer station or printer. Research will need to be done with selecting the proper equipment as it is not cheap. It needs to be durable yet meet the needs of all students. This means equipment that will be used for desks and chairs needs to be designed for computer use, and must meet accessibility standards. Ergonomic design of this equipment is important for students health, so simply buying the cheapest option might not be the best move in the long run. One resource I found listed computer chairs at $115 apiece, so add in accessible desks (which I imagine cost a lot more), construction layout costs, and you are easily looking at tens of thousands of dollars.

Next up is computer hardware. These cost can be debatable but I would guess that 30 PC computer workstations with single monitor and mouse could run about $900 a piece, so you are looking at $27k just for computers. Again it should be researched what equipment is designed to meet accessibility standards and can handle the necessary software the university needs yet will be durable for many years of wear and tear. Now you have to add in the software the university uses that will require licensing costs such as Microsoft Office, Adobe, etc. and added security software (Norton, Kaspersky, etc.). This is also debatable but I imagine it would run in the few to tens of thousands to maintain everything.

Lastly, you will need to have accessibility tools and software turned on or installed so they are ready to be used at any time a student needs them. These tools may be a part of the computer features, or need to be downloaded. Some may also not be free so you will have to add it to the budget. You should also invest in webcams and microphones as they can help meet accessibility needs. I will guess this area will need a few hundred to thousand to meet the university needs.

You will also need to consider more items for a computer lab such as industrial size printer/scanners that will cost in the thousands range. They will also need to be accessible and considered in the layout design of the lab because they can be one of the most popular objects students will use.

I am not the best as estimating numbers but I would guess the price of everything I have mentioned as easily being over $100,000. You could also consider the additional adds on depending on the university needs such as extra hardware connections/cables, networks/servers, router, etc. You could also consider the salary of the person(s) who will be maintaining everything up to proper standards. In other words, it is not cheap to building an accessible computer lab.

Computer Lab Accessibility Guidelines. In Temple.edu. Retrieved from https://accessibility.temple.edu/policies-guidelines/standards-and-guidelines/computer-lab-accessibility-guidelines

Computer Lab Plan: Equipment List and Budget. Retrieved from https://studylib.net/doc/8303774/computer-lab-plan–equipment-list-and-budget

Establishing Your School’s First Computer System: Planning for Success. Retrieved from https://www.fhi360.org/sites/default/files/media/documents/3.%20Establishing%20Your%20School%27s%20First%20Computer%20System%20-%20Planning%20for%20Success.pdf

One thought on “EDTECH 541: Accessible Computer Labs”

  1. Thanks for sharing this! It was interesting to see the cost pile up. I hadn’t thought about the design of the actual room to meet specific needs, but that is really important. I am curious if you feel like there are any areas in particular where a designer might try to cut costs that would have a negative impact on those with special needs?


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