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Accessibility, Faculty Development, & Engaging Learning

Accessibility, Faculty Development, & Engaging Learning

Presenter:  Brett Christie, Director of Faculty Development, Sonoma State University

Presentation Materials are available at

Abstract for presenation -

The California State University has over 10,000 students with disabilities, with a significant year-to-year increase. CSU efforts are currently under way to address how to better serve students with disabilities, while meeting or exceeding federal and state mandates. This presentation will share system-wide progress in terms of faculty/staff development and student impact. In addition, a wealth of resources will be shared, including Universal Design for Learning training materials and impact data on all students, regardless of ability, learning styles, or preferences. Participants will be engaged in the discussion and given an opportunity to move the topic to their current situations.


CSU system effort to make instruction accessible and Brett Christie is one of the key architects of the initiative.   

They are emphasizing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) not just the web

A quick poll showed that the audience ranged in expertise in the Accessibility arena

CSU Accessible technology Initiative (ATI) began in 2005


  • Systemic change
  • Institutionalize accessibility
  • Change CSU culture  (23 campuses (40K+ faculty/staff)

The project goes beyond legal mandates – though there was a law suit re textbook accessibility earlier

  • Vision: to create a culture of access for an inclusive learning and working environment
  • Mission: to help CSU campuses in carrying out CSU policy, as articulated in the CSU executive order E0926, by developing guidelines, implementation strategies, tools and resources.
  • Principle:  To apply universal design, an approach to the design of products and services to e usable by the greatest number of people including individuals with disabilities.

Three implementation Priorities

  • Web Accessibility
  • Instructional Materials Accessibility
  • Procurement of Accessible E&IT

Project plan was to phase in the plan with specific milestones for each of the three priorities.  2012 is the target deadline for full accessibility, accountability via end of year reports, 1st year emphasis for campus planning.

Campus project structure includes an executive sponsor and project mgrs along with a team for each priority (web, instructional, procurement)    (no additional funding so they are being very collaborative in building/implementing resources)

Web – triage principles – careful planning, continuous progress, prioritized remediation.

  • Obey the law - 508, 504,
  • Retrofit older vital sites to the letter of the law – no exceptions
  • New things implemented to best practice which goes beyond the law’s requirements
  • Delay non-critical sites near their lifecycle’s end
  • Replace accommodation with accessibility

Must deal with 3rd party web designers also as many (ex. Athletics) go outside for web services.

CSU-Chico – good model with a good web team to back it up

System wide licenses - large size of the system has helped get good prices

Content management systems have helped make some of these systemic – a huge help.

Instructional Materials

  • Printed materials; textbooks, course readers/course packs, article and handouts, etc.
  • Digital materials: instructional websites, PPTs, e-reserves, digital library materials
  • Multimedia: audio & video

Alternate format Center – creates accessible materials which are saved in a system-wide repository – Unfortunately, not available outside the system at this time.  Nor, does it seem that there is there collaboration between the state higher education systems.

AccessText - Open Access movement to get publishers to share original digital materials.  Current business model needs to be changed.

Collateral:  Five things to do to make your documents more accessible – Five things to do to make your PPTs more accessible.   They are doing one hour workshops.

LRC-Share (system-wide site license) opens PPT and tells you how to fix it. 

Automatic sync if you do the transcription and provide the audio they’ll match them. (but who does these – there isn’t a universal solution, sometimes student, faculty, or staff – more transcribers are being trained and hiring new instructional designers with these skills.)

Some educational videos have transcriptions available.

Also look at:


There are networks of people doing captioning as a hobby too.

Textbooks need to be available well before the semester in order to get them transcribed which doesn’t always happen.  Addressing “behavioral change” in this area since just telling faculty about the issues doesn’t work – lots of resistance – they needed buy-in across the board – so they spent a full year in dialogue to create a common understanding

One of the issues is the need for early adoption of textbooks vs academic freedom to select textbooks closer to the start of the semester. 

They also need to work with faculty re: Accessible syllabi

Other factors in instructional materials

  • Increasing use of digital content, web-based materials and online instruction
  • Increasing use of multimedia (podcasting)
  • Horizon technologies such as virtual classrooms, simulations, augments reality, mobile apps


  • Voice to text – automatic and accurate via Sprint (CapTel., Goog-info – using CSU project to train their algorithm for voice activated search)
  • 3D Printing (graphs, art, models)
  • Broadcast media conversion to the web (caption keeper,
  • Captioning and mobile devices

Accessibility impact on Procurement

Apple iTunes & iPod – interfaces weren’t accessible themselves

LMS Master enabling Agreement

VPAT Agreement:   Voluntary Product Accessibility Template – but many vendors don’t really understand the issues and just fill in the boxes…

Outside of CSU


Christie said wonderful things are happening with open source (Moodle)

Conclusions from the system level

  • Ambitious plan needs top level support
  • CSU is activity seeking the collaboration of other CA entities
  • EnACT project has had positive impact on implementation
  • UDL and ATI go together

As a side note:  they have developed online case stories about accessibility progress in faculty development

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