2021 Rising Star Award Recipient
Assistant Director of Digital Accessibility Services
For displaying leadership that makes higher education more inclusive and accessible to students with disabilities; for illustrating advocacy and exerting an expansive influence on the higher education and IT communities; for being a catalyst for change and inspiring others to action; for being a leading spokesperson in the national dialogue for digital inclusion on campuses
The 2021 EDUCAUSE Rising Star Award recognizes Kyle Shachmut, Assistant Director of Digital Accessibility Services at Harvard University, for his exceptional leadership to make higher education more inclusive and accessible to students with disabilities.
Having strong credentials in both technology and digital accessibility, Kyle joined Harvard University in 2015 as a project manager for accessibility with HarvardX. This was a productive experience for him, with MOOCs reaching millions of learners via open enrollment experiences. During this time, the team on which he served integrated accessibility into a cutting-edge strategy for the platform. Beyond his work on MOOCs, Kyle assembled cross-university teams and then applied for, won, and successfully completed several projects through Harvard’s Presidential Innovation Fund program, which promotes administrative excellence. The first project involved having community members with disabilities help Harvard product developers by testing their platforms for accessibility. This project built empathy among the tech creators, created ties to the local disability community, and paved the way for additional Presidential Innovation Fund projects on technology accessibility, elements of which are still paying dividends on the university’s campus today.
Kyle has taken on successive roles at Harvard, expanding his influence across several divisions of the university and changing the university’s culture around, awareness of, and commitment to digital accessibility. His efforts included contributing to policy development and risk mitigation and convening senior university executives to learn about and promote accessibility on campus. The impact of his early project management brought Kyle to the attention of university leaders, who appointed him to co-lead the formal, university-wide Accessibility Steering Committee. When the university created the Digital Accessibility Services (DAS) team, Kyle was tapped to build and lead it. DAS is one of the larger dedicated teams of this type within higher education and is a model for other institutions.
Even before his association with Harvard, Kyle was sought out to help raise awareness on accessibility issues. In addition to writing opinion pieces for The Boston Globe, he has contributed to articles for The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed as a leading expert on accessibility topics. He is a dynamic and frequent presenter at conferences addressing higher education, technology, law, and disability inclusion.
Kyle’s influence is broad within EDUCAUSE, where he and other accessibility leaders developed the IT Accessibility Risk Statements and Evidence. He has also presented EDUCAUSE conference sessions about accessibility policies, procurement, strategies, and teams. In 2020, he assembled an expert group and led the EDUCAUSE Summer Institute course “Accessibility in Higher Education: Considerations and Strategies During COVID-19.” He is also the co-chair and steering committee lead for the EDUCAUSE IT Accessibility Community Group, growing the group’s focus and participation. Kyle strives to elevate the role of people with disabilities to higher education leaders generally and especially within the technology accessibility and higher education IT communities.
Kyle has been a role model for making higher education more accessible and inclusive to students with disabilities. He brings passion, enthusiasm, and commitment to his professional endeavors. As a catalyst in the cause of providing equitable educational opportunities for all students, Kyle Shachmut embodies the qualities our community celebrates in a rising star.
This EDUCAUSE Award is sponsored by Moran Technology Consulting, Gold Partner.