CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences is taking recent calls to improve the accessibility of learning materials seriously.
The college selected electronic inclusivity as one of its top three diversity blueprint goals, and this spring, about 30 faculty and staff – representing every unit in the college – will complete four two-hour training sessions on accessibility.
Dave Carpenter, director of operations, and Jennifer Garvey, assistant director of information technology, explain that the effort to train the college’s faculty how to make their materials accessible to people with disabilities is not a response to any filed complaints or legal action.
“We are doing this because it’s the right thing to do, not as a reaction to something negative,” Garvey said. “We wanted to pre-emptively put ourselves in a good position.”
New video series
The trainings, being held from February through April, are being conducted by the Assistive Technology Resource Center, based in the college’s Department of Occupational Therapy. The ATRC recently developed a seven-video series called “Stories of Inclusive Technology: Diversity, Accessibility and Universal Design” with a $15,000 Creative Works Commercialization Award from CSU Ventures. The new videos feature CSU faculty, students and staff sharing personal stories that demonstrate the benefits of inclusive design for students with and without disabilities.
The CHHS trainings, being held in Morgan Library, include at least one faculty member from each of the eight units in the college, who will bring in their own materials to work on. According to Garvey and Carpenter, it’s sometimes eye-opening for people who are not up to speed on accessibility standards to have their documents read to them by a screen reader. They get a firsthand glimpse of what people with a disability experience.
Once employees have been trained, they will return to their units and educate their colleagues about best practices for electronic inclusivity. CSU’s Accessibility Team offers training and other services similar to what CHHS has scheduled. Interested parties should explore the Accessibility By Design website and consider filling out its contact form.
Carpenter and Garvey note that accessibility is not just about web pages, but any electronic file or document created by faculty and distributed to students, even if it’s a simple Microsoft Word document sent via email. They acknowledge that tackling the problem is ambitious, but worth the effort.
“It’s huge, but if you never take any bites, you’ll never eat the apple,” Carpenter said.
For more information on the new videos, which can be downloaded for free by anyone with a CSU electronic ID, visit https://shopcsuv.org/.