IT Accessibility: What Campus Leaders Have to Say (15-minute Version)

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[Michael K. Young] We are committed to the notion that everyone should have an opportunity to participate in higher education whether it be from the learning perspective or the research perspective or an opportunity to work here at this institution. We benefit from that because we get to enjoy the talents and the skills of those people who come in, and also their perspective which in many cases will be different from the perspective of others on campus. So accessibility becomes a very important value at the university.
Words appear: Michael K. Young, President University of Washington. Images of a teacher and students in classrooms and at computer stations. Text moves on a Closed Circuit TV. Words appear: IT Accessibility: What Campus Leaders Have to Say. Tracy Mitrano, Director of IT Policy, Cornell University
[Tracy Mitrano] We're a leading university globally. We want the best talent in the world for our students, our staff, and our faculty. And we want to be sure if that talent has a disability that they know that we are a welcoming community.
Pablo Molina, Campus CIO, Georgetown University
[Pablo Molino] We're competing with other prestigious and highly accomplished institutions. We want to make sure that we can target the right candidates to join our community regardless of their disability status.
Peter Siegel, CIO and Vice Provost Education and Technology, UC Davis
[Pete Siegel] We want to do everything we can to ensure that they have the same access to smart faculty, to fellow students, and to the resources at UC Davis.
Edward Ray, President, Oregon State University
[Edward Ray] In fact, we genuinely believe that excellence is achieved through diversity and that a commitment to equity and inclusion really enriches each of our lives.
Linda Cahill, Assistant CIO and Director Workplace & Instructional Technologies, Barry University
[Linda Cahill] It would be inconceivable not to have a social conscience at least, and be completely committed to making our resources at Barry University accessible to all students.
Edward Ray
[Edward Ray] We believe that the use of technology can be very powerful. It connects people to each other, but it also enhances their learning capabilities; it increases what they can do through their research and creative work; it really makes it possible for them to have a more powerful impact in the world and that's basically what we're all about. And we want that to be true for every member of our community, regardless of limitations, of physical, spacial, time or other dimension.
Hernan Londoño, Associate CIO and Director Workplace & Instructional Technologies, Barry University
[Hernan Londono] As an IT professional, sometimes some of us concentrate in the technical side of the house only and we forget that finally the technology is to serve the people.
Michael K. Young
[Michael K. Young] What the university offers and makes available has to be offered to everybody. We can't afford to waste the talents or the brilliance or the minds of anybody and making things accessible allows everybody to engage in the university. Equal opportunity is a part of our value system, but it's also required by law.
Peter Siegel
[Pete Siegel] Compliance is extremely important. Compliance is the law. But that isn't the motivator for most of us at universities. Our motivation has always been to provide easily accessible tools, excellent experiences for our students, and really to give them the sense that this is a place they want to be, a place they want to learn, a place where they can thrive.
Hands use a tablet. Words appear: Accessible Design, Universal Design, User-Centered Design. Michael K. Young
[Michael K. Young] Universal design is a very powerful concept because what it means is we look at the issue of accessibility at the outset rather than buying something or engaging something or developing something that we have to retrofit which not only makes it cheaper and more efficient it likely makes it much better in terms of both the quality of the product and the accessibility to those all the people that we want to be able to use it.
Tracy Mitrano
[Tracy Mitrano] I think the other direction that colleges and universities could and should take is to think about accommodation as really the beginning of the conversation about disability. It was the appropriate measure that was taken in the Americans with Disabilities Act that was passed in 1990 and that's well over a generation ago. I think now we really have to think less about how we're going to measure specifically this accommodation or that accommodation and recognize that we can make accessibility open and available so that individual staff, faculty or students do not have to go to get an accommodation. It will be automatically available in the webpage that they visit, in the device that they use.
Brady Deaton, Chancellor, University of Missouri
[Brady Deaton] We envision a campus that has a concept of universal design in all aspects of information technology, that a student is not impeded in any way, but in fact, that technology is utilized not only directly by those who benefit because of certain challenges they may have, but also is illustrative to the broader student body and to the faculty and to alums about what an inclusive learning environment is.
Peter Siegel
[Pete Seigel] We have some things we have to learn in order to move into accessibility space, but the basic goals and the basic values are things we already know and love. Then we bring in things like universal design, the notion that if we design things well right from the start they actually aren't more expensive. This is something that we can fit into even our very, very tight budgets.
A touchscreen, a laptop, a joystick, a virtual keyboard, a low vision keyboard, and a CCTV. Words appear: Learning from Other Institutions. Eileen McDonough, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, Barry University
[Eileen McDonough] We make a great effort in our graduate and our undergraduate counsel to make sure that faculty and deans are aware that in program design, in offering a new major, that they take into account that they might have to have specialized software available and they have to build that into their program development. And then to certainly just be aware of all the different ways that students can learn, to help faculty and deans understand the concept of universal design.
Gerry Hanley, Senior Director, Academic Technology Services, California State University Chancellor's Office.
[Gerry Hanley] The first step really needs to be an assessment of where we are so we can then inform our planning process, develop plans, implement a project, and then really assess the results of it.
Pablo Molina
[Pablo Molino] Key to our approach to making sure that our campus and our technology is accessible to people with disabilities, is to ensure we do this by design. This is not an afterthought that we do after we have implemented a new classroom. Instead, this is something that we do from the initial conception of a new project or idea. The same way we do this for privacy and security, we do this for accessibility.
Bruce Maas, CIO and Vice Provost for Information Technology, University of Wisconsin, Madison
[Bruce Maas] It is less costly, in the long run to be thinking through the issues of accessibility comprehensively. Therefore, having a plan for accessibility ensures that from the beginning we think through our issues with regard to the delivery of our services. Doing so in a strategic way means that we can hold down costs over the long haul and actually deliver better services in the bargain.
Brady Deaton
[Brady Deaton] It is very important that a university follows a policy and a process that is a can-do kind of process. It assumes that we are going to undertake the investments that we need, we're going to demonstrate the value that we need, that not only address the needs of students who may be challenged with vision or hearing or other disabilities but also draw on the technology that is not only exciting for those people who are developing the technology, it's intellectually exciting, it provides new jobs for that matter, and it stimulates learning in so many parts of the university. So that attitude of the university administration, as well as faculty and staff and students, becomes very very important because everyone gains from this. It's a win-win situation.
Tracy Mitrano
[Tracy Mitrano] A policy really is an important way to go because it will focus everyone's attention. It's also probably the way that you have to go now that there are legal pressures on higher education in this area. The second thing I would say about policy is there are really two types in general. One is a policy that you have because you have a law, for example the Family Education Rights Privacy Act Policy, so you want to be clear and sure that you're going to have compliance on your campus. There's another kind of policy that I would call aspirational policy and maybe accessibility fits a little bit in both but you most certainly can err on the aspirational side. An aspirational policy is something you establish for your institution as a path moving towards something, moving forward. It does not have to have one hundred percent compliance because it's really a direction that you're setting strategically for your institution.
Gerry Hanley
[Gerry Hanley] I'd say another critical aspect around our strategy is a shared governance strategy. Because education is a shared responsibility across faculty, staff, students, venders, all of us working together have to share in that responsibility. Now, a shared governance process means if you are responsible in delivering the service, then you have an opportunity to share in governing how we're going to manage the implementation of these services.
Brady Deaton
[Brady Deaton] The administrators of the university must reflect the values that demonstrate the importance of this to the learning environment and it has to be built in then to every aspect of what we do.
Michael K. Young
[Michael K. Young] Right now we have a number of projects and initiatives underway at the UW in which we're testing new technologies. Accessibility is an important consideration in these evaluations. Many of the vendors we work with have completed Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates or VPATs, which offer a checklist of accessibility criteria and vendors' self-assessment as to how well they meet those criteria. It's a good starting point, but we go beyond that to ask a vendor specific questions and to test their products with respect to accessibility.
Gerry Hanley
[Gerry Hanley] We begin with our vendors saying [a] this is not only important, that this is required for working with the CSU. Every student who comes into our institution we have to provide equally effective access to those services and you are a partner in delivering those services to us. So we will tell you what we need and then we will help you inform your staff, educate your staff, provide them some consultation and guidance in partnership with us, so you can deliver the successful service for us.
Pat Burns, Vice President for Information Technology Dean of Libraries, Colorado State University
[Pat Burns] So we work with our vendors to try to put pressure on them to make things accessible. We actually have a purchasing process where we work through and ask the issues about accessibility for software and hardware that we buy as well.
Bruce Maas
[Bruce Maas] Individual efforts really need to be able to scale well. If we go about things in an ad hoc approach, one by one, we're not likely to get the same results as if we work together as a community in higher education, to work with vendors to improve accessibility for everyone with regard to the products that are offered. That's a much more pragmatic approach rather than institution by institution.
A Brailled keyboard. Gerry Hanley.
[Gerry Hanley] Making accessibility a priority in their development roadmap is going to be driven by the market demand. And if an institution never says a word, the vendor isn't going to do anything about it. So if we begin to communicate our demands collectively, then the vendor will recognize the market value of accessibility.
Joel L Hartman, Vice Provost for Information Technologies and Resources, University of Central Florida
[Joel Hartman] As we acquire IT resources, we have to embed accessibility in our contracts. As we develop resources, we have to employ universal design in our thinking about how to make these resources available and we have to continue to monitor students to see if we're really delivering to them the resources in a form that they can actually use.
Words appear: "Accessibility is the heart and soul of a place of a learning". Images of a student in a wheelchair, two men walking one with a white cane and a handicapped door switch. Michael K. Young
[Michael K. Young] Accessibility requires effort on the part of everyone in the higher education community... faculty, staff, technology vendors. If we all do our part, our institutions can provide everyone with an equal opportunity to participate. And we all benefit from the perspectives of a diverse group.
Hernan Londoño
[Hernan Londono] Having that peace of mind that we are doing all we can to provide an accessible campus is... gives us a lot of pride and we feel very happy about what, what we do.
Linda Cahill
[Linda Cahill] Why wouldn't we make our campus accessible to students with disabilities and why wouldn't we do everything we could to see the technology is accessible to our students?
Tracy Mitrano
[Tracy Mitrano] The spirit of what has made higher education the jewel in the crown of American society is part and parcel of the message of accessibility.
Edward Ray
[Edward Ray] Every way in which we touch the lives of others, whether it's in the classroom, the laboratory, through live performances, through events on campus, we want everyone who comes here and creates those experiences to be as fully engaged and as fully benefited by the activity as possible. And that simply can't be done if people have artificial challenges or barriers to try to overcome. I would say to those out there who are just getting started or maybe struggling to figure out how to use technology to advance accessibility on their campuses that there's no such thing as a bad time to start.
Words appear: This video presentation was created as part of AccessComputing, a collaboration of the DO-IT Center and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. For more information, consult: AccessComputing is funded by the National Science Foundation as part of the Broadening Participation in Computing program of the Directorate for Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering [grant # CNS-0837508 and CNS-1042260]. Copyr