Discussion Summaries

Sheryl Burgstahler and a group have a discussion.

The following are examples of responses given to discussion questions.

What are questions/concerns you have about implementing Policy #188 on your campus?

Some questions and concerns were discussed during the CBI and submitted on handouts. Some are listed below.

What tools and infrastructure can we use to collaborate?

  • We created “The Matrix,” a list of all of our supporting systems and shared contracts. This is a great thing to look back on for accessibility testing. This might be something we could share with other colleges and universities.
  • At our school, we created a spreadsheet to track high priority software, whether it had a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT), and whether the vendor promoted accessibility. We could use student employees to help collect more information and evaluate functional accessibility. We will store this information in a database.
  • VPATs can often be written by people who don’t actually understand functional accessibility.
  • The state security audit could be a good place to get information about products used on campus.
  • WATech has an existing usability lab and a designated staff doing full usability testing. There hasn’t been a discussion about who should have access to this testing information, but I think the information belongs to each agency, not the state.

Are there any existing rubrics to evaluate software?

  • The OCR resolutions shared some resources.
  • The Accessible Technology Services team has created a checklist for following the WCAG and meeting these accessibility needs. It is posted online at www.uw.edu/accessibility/checklist.
  • There are a few automated tools, listed on the UW Accessible IT website. But don’t rely on these too strongly—these tools can only address about 30% of accessibility issues; they do not look at functional accessibility at all. Site Improve is an example of this. It also finds spelling errors, dead links, and accessibility issues and is mainly a tool to just improve your website overall.
  • Pa11y (http://pa11y.org/) runs code against validation and user reports. Tenon (https://tenon.io/) can also validate the code. There are a lot of programs that test to make sure the code employs accessible design practices. 
  • Open source software can be evaluated just like any other; moreso, if you have the skills, you have access to the code and can fix it yourself, then you can send it back to the provider.

How does academic freedom play into accessibility?

  • Faculty will always have to accommodate, and they should understand that.
  • I’ve had a faculty member argue that they had the freedom to use whatever software they wanted. Does someone in the institution have the power to tell that faculty they need to find an accessible option?

How do we promote a culture shift from individual (accommodation) to inclusivity (universal design)?

  • Changing culture is always a long process. One way to promote change is to infiltrate meetings on various topics to infuse accessibility into the conversation. Diversity discussions should include issues related to accessibility. Technology discussions should include accessibility issues.
  • Join online communities and bring accessibility up whenever possible.

Additional Questions Submitted

  • What are the envisioned roles and responsibilities of the accessibility coordinator?
  • Where will we find funding? Can we apply for grants related to accessibility?
  • How do we define “high risk” technology, and how do we pick what we prioritize?
  • What granularity is expected for IT (e.g., plug ins for WordPress)?
  • Will this policy and the systems handled be spearheaded by the colleges or the state?
  • Is there support for a state level database of products with information regarding accessibility?
  • How will we make sure everyone complies with the policy?
  • Will audits be scheduled to ensure compliance, similar to the Office of Civil Rights?
  • How does Policy #188 affect private institutions?
  • What is the best way to collaborate across campuses to share resources?
  • Should we create a knowledge base to be shared to discuss commonly used software and other technology?
  • How do we get faculty interested in accessibility?
  • How do we best share what faculty need to know, including adjunct and short-term faculty?
  • How much training will be included and how much time will it take to bring staff and faculty up to full compliance?
  • Are teaching tools and related third party products (Purusall, etc.) covered in Policy #188?
  • Are we including accessibility in curriculum for students in education, IT, computer science, etc?
  • What do we do about CTCLink and who will ensure its accessibility and compliance?
  • What are some tools for checking accessibility for websites and software?
  • Are there any existing rubrics or assessment tools available to assess existing technology? 
  • How can we work together to test accessibility of software?
  • How can we break this down into more manageable pieces?
  • How do we promote a culture shift to include accessibility?
  • How can we address accessibility issues for students with cognitive disabilities?
  • Has accessibility and disability be included in diversity efforts?
  • Will the office of the CIO publically post waivers online?
  • Will civil rights groups look at our waivers and use them to file class action lawsuits against us?
  • How can we use waivers to pressure vendors into providing more accessible products?
  • How can we foster innovation in a classroom with new technologies while accommodating and incorporating accessibility?
  • How will we get others on campus to continue participating and being involved in accessibility tasks?

What are key steps you are taking or plan to take to implement Policy #188?

  • Create a series of deadlines to get certain things made accessible or certain steps taken.
  • Add accessibility to the web and publication style guide.
  • Add accessibility to different events and materials to promote a culture shift.
  • Formally identify teams—including faculty, disability resource services, procurement, students, and IT—define roles (including a key leader), and share resources.
  • Include influencers and motivated people instead of just assigning the role to people who are less interested.
  • Create new accessibility resources to share across campus.
  • Create an online forum for faculty to engage in discussion about technology and software.
  • Focus on the user experience and bring to the table materials that showcase the user experience to engage those who are unsure of why things need to be made accessible.
  • Make sure all IT purchases go through an accessibility review to review the VPAT and other accessibility promises.
  • Host workshops for faculty to learn how to make accessible PDFs and caption videos.
  • Showcase 3PlayMedia, which is a captioning service contracted by the state for all Washington higher education institutions (http://www.3playmedia.com/).
  • Look at OCR cases and consider those resolutions as we create our own policy.
  • Find or create a list of all software used on campus to determine what needs to be evaluated and where the priorities are.
  • Update university and departmental style guides to include the accessibility guidelines.
  • Update our technology request form to include accessibility.
  • Work collectively with other colleges so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
  • Create a process that ensures faculty and staff follow through on compliance with accessibility.
  • Provide evaluations to faculty and staff for their software and hardware resources.
  • Document all processes, including testing, criteria, training, standardization, and awareness promotion.
  • Post the policy online and promote it to the institution.
  • Target funding sources (groups that will benefit the most from accessibility) for particularly important tasks.
  • Present accessibility awareness to different departments.

What are the campus leaders/units that should be involved in complying with Policy #188, what roles do/will they play, and what processes are in place or need to be developed?

  • The bookstore proactively engages with textbook sellers and would be the one to discuss accessibility with them.
  • An advisory group or task force that finds out what needs to be done on campus.
  • Curriculum committee, bringing accessibility into the conversation and adding guidelines that faculty have to follow before getting curriculum approved.
  • Marketing, since they are the first contact for most students and should be inviting by having accessible materials.
  • A new person hired who can respond to both the IT side and the faculty side and bridge the gap for accessibility.
  • Tenure committee, to make sure accessibility is on faculty radar.
  • People who are really interested and the stakeholders should be engaged, since they will help promote the issue—this could be in the form of an open call for engagement as well as direct invitation.
  • An executive buy-in from the president or provost, as well as school deans, to promote this idea from above.
  • IT staff should have at least one skilled person testing all software for accessibility.
  • Board of trustees and cabinet should be invited to promote financial investment.
  • E-learning coordinators need to be on board to make sure all online classes are accessible.
  • Libraries need to be involved to make sure all additional learning environments will also be kept in the loop and can promote accessibility in libraries.
  • Web masters across campus should be invited to discuss accessibility and create a plan for full web accessibility by a specific date.
  • The medical center and athletics department should also be reviewed for used software and accessibility.
  • Survey sent to current students and alumni about accessibility and software used.

Develop Individual Campus Plans in Groups or as Individuals

  • Our student services unit is the only place to mention Section 504. I want to change this by bringing disability and accessibility into the conversation across campus. We will look at who we can get on board to help manage and run the tasks required and start making products more accessible.
  • Our first plan is to look at the accessibility of the learning management system we use. Then we will start evaluating all software and websites students and faculty use, prioritized by level of use.
  • Our first priority is to look at our new enterprise resource planning software that will be rolling out. I haven’t heard any mention of accessibilitywith respect to this software, and it will be a huge target for complaints if we don’t make sure it is accessible.
  • I want to promote a cultural change around accessibility and drive faculty to be more inclusive. Faculty have been resistant and overwhelmed to this change, since often it can seem insurmountable. We want instead to tackle it in small pieces by offering faculty smaller options to start with.
  • Processes need to be developed for librarians, educational outreach programs, faculty, and student programs for making sure all software they use is accessible. Each group should have their own plan that work in tandem with others.
  • Connections will be created for collaborating both across campus and across institutions to find partnerships and share the load. 
  • We plan on working with other institutions to each adopt a specific product or software and work with the vendor to make it more accessible.
  • We are hoping to add an Accessible Media Center to our Accessible Technology Center, where websites, documents, and captioning can be made more proactively. Faculty and students could come in and get help on these topics.
  • By hiring a trained, trusted tester, we can evaluate all of our products by the same set of standards.