2016 Conference Accessibility

The Who, What, Where and When of Accessibility (UAD3)

Where does accessibility live on your campus?

If Rob Carr had it his way, accessibility would touch every end of campus. His presentation gave a high-level overview of this notion—and he touched upon how roles and processes can be tweaked to account for accessibility.

Accessibility shouldn’t be relegated to one team, and especially not to one person for obvious reasons: turnover. If the sole owner of all the accessibility knowledge leaves, a campus could be in big trouble.

Rob explained why accessibility should be integrated into everything we do in higher ed web, and he spoke of sustainability and scalability. These solutions need to last and evolve as technology changes, and we may start small, perhaps on a single project, but how can we scale these plans to spread further?

To illustrate some examples, he called on various audience members and asked their role. The first attendee to speak up was a Jill-of-All-Trades: not only was she her school’s public information officer, but she also handled social media, publications, and other various communications tasks. Rob then gave some ideas of how accessibility could be implemented into her role. Ideas included plain language and alt text on social media imagery. For project managers, he suggested that they know to pad in extra time for the accessibility learning curve.

Rob also expressed how accessibility cannot be an afterthought; things like color contrast, keyboard navigation—it all should be worked into the planning stages and documented. He used an example of a university that has a very bright official color, one that would not work well with contrast online—it was a risky move politically, but in the name of accessibility they were able to tone down the color for the web.

Training users across the board on accessibility needs is important, and this can be worked into existing guides and sessions, not necessarily stand-alone accessibility trainings because, again, the idea is to integrate it into everything we do.
Photo Credit: m.gifford Flickr via Compfight cc

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By Donna Talarico

Donna Talarico, a Red-Stapler-winning HighEdWeb presenter and volunteer editor for Link, is an independent writer and content strategist. She is the marketing columnist for Wiley's Recruiting and Retaining Adult Learners, and her work has also been published in CASE Currents, The Guardian Higher Education Network, and elsewhere. From 2010 to 2015, she told the Elizabethtown College story as part of an award-winning marketing and communications team. Always a storyteller, before higher ed she worked in print and broadcast media, and for a leading eCommerce company. She is the founder and publisher of Hippocampus Magazine, a bimonthly creative nonfiction journal and small press. She loves road trips, board games, greasy spoon diners, and words.