Working Group Discussions

Participants are discussing strategies in working groups.

Notes related to specific questions discussed in small groups are presented below.

What barriers do you face on your campus related to IT accessibility?

  • We need to shift from a culture of accommodation to a culture of accessibility.
  • It’s important to have accessibility policies published so everyone knows about them; however, it is very hard to enforce these rules. We hope that if we can at least catch a few of them, it will encourage others to be accessible.
  • Money is often a barrier to accessibility, whether it is for purchasing new resources or the amount paid for staff and faculty. Captioning and other accommodations can cost a large amount of both money and time.
  • Who’s in charge of changing the climate and making sure everything gets accessible? What responsibilities belong to the instructor, the IT department, or the disability office?
  • Procurement needs to be included in the conversation to make sure we don’t purchase inaccessible  technology and software.
  • We never have enough time or expertise to get the tasks done that are needed.
  • We need more champions within our faculty senate and the federation to address accessibility issues in high-level meetings. We need to take on some collective responsibility for training faculty and making sure all classes are accessible.
  • People get burned out always talking about accessibility. When a faculty member has to deal with 42 other problems throughout the day, they don’t want to deal with one more. We need to convince faculty to buy in with respect to accessibility.
  • Unless we let vendors know the issues, they will never know how to make better, more accessible tools. Vendors need to realize that accessibility is important from the designing stages of their tools instead of retroactively.
  • Websites and campuses need to be accessible beyond just classes; if someone can’t find the information they need online, he or she won’t apply for the program or search for more information about our school.
  • We need to make sure all faculty have Acrobat Pro so they can make their PDFs accessible.
  • We miss so much great talent when we don’t include students with disabilities. Faculty are so quick to defend themselves or say “This doesn’t apply to me; I don’t have a student with a disability.” We need to shift to a culture of acceptance and recognition of the talents of all people out there.

Participants from each institution will work together to identify specific steps, both short term and long term, they can take to increase accessibility on their campus or to encourage others to do so.

  • We need to plan with the intention of including accessibility from the very beginning of all IT design.
  • We should make a commitment to universal design and recruiting more stakeholders across campus to promote this effort.
  • We will take advantage of the new DO-IT publication, 20 Tips for Teaching an Accessible Distance Learning Course, to make our own distance learning courses accessible. We need to start training faculty and make sure accessibility is included in every step of designing and teaching a course. We can even create our own version of the 20 Tips publication specific for our own faculty.
  • We will allow feedback for all courses so students with disabilities can provide input on ways to make a class more accessible. We can ask what professors do to make class feel more welcoming and include students in online courses.
  • We should model universal design at all of our campus meetings, including the provision of captioning, microphones, accessible name tags, and procedures for asking for accommodations.
  • We already have a group of faculty who are interested in accessibility; we hope to create a taskforce and create a set of procedures for all instructors to use to make their classes more accessible.
  • We’d like to replicate a student panel on our own campus to show faculty and instructors why accessibility is important and put a face to the problems we’re talking about. We could include the panel on a professional development day or during orientation week.
  • We want to make sure all websites across campus are welcoming to and accessible by students with disabilities. We could create a basic template for faculty to use on Canvas, as well as instructors for creating accessible PDFs and discussion boards. We hope to have an entire district redesign within the next two years.
  • We will continue to spread awareness about universal design and target student services staff. We will host captioning parties and spread information on creating accessible syllabuses and all other documents.
  • We plan on talking with the procurement office to make sure we have rules about accessibility when making purchases with vendors.
  • We want to start with the lowest hanging fruit and just make sure every image on our school website has alternative text.
  • We need to differentiate between accessibility and inclusion; do we want to create a culture of inclusion or merely legal compliance?
  • For our masters in online teachers program, we will add an accessibility aspect and require lessons on the importances of designing accessibly.
  • We willreate an initiative to make sure all online classes are accessible. We will include partners and disability services, take advantage of new tools, lead by example, develop a good plan, and be patient with faculty and instructors.
  • We want to create partnerships with other projects across campus, including the Pathways Project, a new CRM Software Program, and other projects that need to include accessibility.
  • We want to revamp spring quarter workshops to include accessible documents and captioning.
  • We want to collaborate with other schools across Washington State to create a pact and share tools about accessibility.
  • We will create criteria and instructions for captioning all types of videos. We want to start with the 100 level courses to start with the broadest impact and create a strategy for making sure all faculty get on board.
  • We can show faculty how to use JAWS, zoom-text, DNS, and Kurtzveil on Canvas.
  • We plan to use DO-IT checklists on all aspects of our campus to make sure we are using universal design across campus and online.
  • We will discover the most efficient way to get captioning done and look into Panopto captioning.
  • We will establish an online platform where faculty can share promising practices and students with disabilities can give feedback and share what they’d like to see in class.

How can we address the needs identified in the small group discussion? How might we collaborate to support one another?

  • Create a better collaboration between IT and disability support services as a baseline for everything we’ve discussed; together, we can support faculty in getting up to speed with accessibility and universal design.
  • Share DO-IT’s resources among faculty and staff on campus and continue to create more resources. Work with other campuses to share these resources to prevent reinventing the wheel.
  • Start monthly meetings and open forums to get information on universal design and accessibility out around campus and raise awareness on the issues.
  • Create a newsletter or email digest on pertinent topics to all conference attendees and continue to meet up online to continue to discuss universal design. Have DO-IT check in with us after the conference to see if we need any more help accomplishing our goals.
  • As we train faculty and staff, reach out to students as well to learn more about accessibility and universal design. Include these topics in orientation and pertinent classes.
  • Change the policies around purchasing; include accessibility in purchasing rules or make sure procurement consults with disability support services before making a purchase. Disability support services could start this connection by establishing a task force and reaching out to procurement.
  • Contribute to the DO-IT knowledge base.
  • Join the community of practice (CoP) and listserv for accessible IT in postsecondary education in Washington. Share resources from conferences and information learned via this CoP and encourage other institutions to share often as well. (See below for more information about the Accessible IT CoP.)
  • Organize a meeting around the Accessing Higher Ground, CSUN International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, and other accessibility conferences.
  • Continue the discussion on campus and include departments, administration, and task force members. Collaborate together to create policies, procedures, and make connections statewide to share resources and support.
  • Tackle low hanging fruit first and create a checklist of all the things that need to be done over a two and four year timeline.
  • Plan to come to next year’s CBI and have more time to communicate with each other and work together so create relationships across institutions. This will lead to future collaborations, partnerships, and resource sharing.
  • Create templates and demonstrations to share with IT and support services across our school and other institutions.
  • Partner with each other to draft statements or commitments about IT accessibility.