A model for successfully launching an
accessibility initiative at your
An example of collaboration between DRS
and Computer Services at Temple
Allen Sheffield
Student Services Coordinator
Paul Paire
Executive Director
About Temple University
• Based in Philadelphia, one of Pennsylvania’s state-related research
Universities, along with the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State
• 37,000 students and 5,700 employees
• 17 schools and colleges including 8 professional
schools (including Dentistry, Law, Medicine, Pharmacy and Podiatry)
• 140 bachelor’s degree programs
• 126 master’s degree programs
• International campuses in Tokyo, Rome, and
London with programs in China, Korea, Greece,
Israel and more
• 1400 students registered with Disability Student
DRS’s role in accessibility
• Aware of and meets students needs ad-hoc
• DRS can drive the conversation and raise
concerns, but can or should they lead an
initiative for university wide change?
How we see ourselves
How we feel
How others see us
How to change an organization
Are you Fred?
• Aware that your institution has a problem.
• You want to do something about it.
• Maybe you want to lead the initiative, but should
Leading vs Managing
“He who thinks he leads but
has no followers is only taking
a walk
- John Maxwell
The qualities of a leader
Empowers others
Willing to lead by example (they must believe in
this cause)
Are these really that important?
Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip project
The Law of the Lid
John Maxwell’s 21 irrefutable laws of leadership… #1
Where can you find Alice?
Computer Services
Legal Counsel
Web Communications
How did we pitch it?
• Northwestern & NYU settlement
• NFB settlement with Penn State
So What, Now What?
• Don’t be too wordy
• Have a plan ready
• Be decisive
Technology accessibility and the ADA
• “Colleges and universities have specific legal obligations to
provide students, faculty, and staff with disabilities the
same benefits, programs, and services.”
- Russlynn Ali, assistant secretary for civil rights
U.S. Department of Education
• For the Dept. of Justice and the Dept. of Education, their
major compliance interest and enforcement interest for
the foreseeable future is access to technology.
• College and Universities need to get a good handle on this
issue and their role in providing accessible technology.
• The problem is here now, and it is not going away.
Why Now?
• Greater reliance on technology in education.
– Course management systems (Blackboard, Moodle, ANGEL.)
– Smart classrooms with advanced audio visual technology.
– On-line administrative processes.
– Dramatic increase in on-line learning.
– Growing adoption of electronic textbooks and eReaders in
– Proliferation of iPad’s.
– Growing use of Google Apps.
• As technology gets more complex compliance is becoming
• Proliferation of lawsuits.
Get people motivated
Motivation for Executives
•Desire to be fair & equitable in delivering services
•30 complaints or settlements (and one statement of
interest) involving institutions of Higher Education
Current litigation in Higher Ed
# of complaints brought by:
# types & of ADA issues raised:
National Federation of the Blind
Department of Education
Department of Justice
American Council of the Blind
Student Lawsuit
Employee Lawsuit
Reading Rights Coalition
Disability Rights Advocate
Texas Civil Rights Project
Physical Spaces (Standards for Design)
application process
Course Management System
Course Registration
Google Apps
Instructional Materials
Instructor’s Behavior
Online course content
Electronic Textbook
Food Service
Self Audit
• Hired outside consultant to review:
– Websites & Web applications (sample size=15)
– Classrooms / Learning Spaces
– Computer Labs
• Results: we were on par with other institutions
that hadn’t addressed accessibility
Our Discovery
• Temple University found out we need to address:
Overall accessibility policy for information and technology
Computer labs (128 computer labs & 3,648 workstations)
Instructional materials
Learning spaces/classrooms (~700 including labs/studios)
Procurement of technology
Web based content
Web based systems
Pull together a guiding team
Handing off control
Accessible Tech Compliance
Chair (CIO)
1 Staff (Executive director)
4 Faculty representatives
1 School / College technical (Director of Information Tech)
2 Computer Services (Associate Vice President & Exec Director of Academic
1 Creative Services (Director of Electronic Communications)
2 Disability Resources and Services (Associate Vice President & Associate
1 Human Resources (Associate Vice President)
1 Provost Office (Vice Provost)
1 Library (Senior Associate University Librarian)
1 University Counsel (Associate University Counsel)
1 Facilities (Director of Architectural Services)
It can’t be just executives
• Someone has to have boots on the ground and
get into the weeds
• Find out what other institutions do
– Asked Penn State
– Asked the consultant
There needs to be a manager
• What to look for in a manager:
– Proactive
– Adaptable
– Organized
– Driven
– Passionate
• What the manager does not need to be:
– An expert in the field of disability
Project/Working groups
Project cochairs
Materials &
Training &
Web Site
Web Review &
Launching the initiative
• Communicate for buy in:
– CIO went on a road show presenting to:
Council of Deans
Faculty Senate
Business Managers
Collegial assemblies
– Presentation consisted of:
• Overview of policy & project
• Who is responsible (content creator is responsible)
• We’re here to help & what we’ve done so far
Accessibility Liaisons
• An individual within each school or college,
responsible for coordinating the accessibility
remediation and compliance efforts for their
respective area:
– Establishes priorities of remediation
– Evaluates accessibility during the procurement process
– Works with budget unit head for funding accessibility
– Attends accessibility meetings and training
– Provides annual reports on the individual school or,
colleges, progress towards remediation
Develop a vision and strategy
Vision = University policy
• We will be accessible
• The person responsible for providing the technology or
information is responsible for making it accessible
• If it can’t be made accessible we should consider removing it
• Accessible Technology Compliance Committee which is
empowered to effectuate change and is responsible for:
Setting standards & guidelines
Setting Timetables
Granting exceptions
Scope & Budget Planning
• Initial assessment
– Hire a consultant
• Instructional materials
– Tools for DIYers
– Farming out remediation
• Learning spaces & Computer
– Software
– Hardware
– Remediation of physical spaces
• Library and it’s components
– Online catalog
– Journals
– Alt Format for Course reserves
• Multimedia
– Captioning/Transcripts
– Audio Descriptions/Transcripts
– Captioning of live & live
streaming of events
• Web
– Web auditing solution
– web based systems
– Tools for testing
– Accessibility Q&A staff as part
of the software development
Survey other institutions
• Join Athen & EDUCAUSE’s “ITACCESS” listservs
• Attend conferences to learn from other
• Conference call with Cal State about how they
launched their initiative
• Talk with San Francisco State about their
procurement process
Working groups develop standards
• Web group
– Developed standards for web content
• WCAG 2.0 AA for internally developed/sponsored sites
• Section 508 for vendor controlled content
• Established deadlines for compliance
– Issued an RFP for a web auditing tool
• Assistive Technology group
– Developed standards for Computer labs
– Developed standards for Classrooms (evolved into Learning Spaces)
• Instructional Materials group*
– Started working on standards (abandoned in favor of how-tos)
– Developing checklists
*Need to get faculty involved in Instructional Materials workgroup
Learning space standards
• Worked with Disability Resources & Services to develop standards
• Standards address:
– 2010 Standards for Accessible Design specifications (i.e. reach distances &
kick space for podiums)
– Software
– Hardware (including control panels for lights & AV equipment)
– Smart carts
• Types of spaces
Auditorium/Theater space
Lecture hall
Seminar room
Studio space
• Developed a checklist based on the standards
Computer lab standards
• Standards address:
– 2010 Standards for Accessible Design specifications
Reach distances (counter/workstation heights, peripherals)
Route to workstation
Kick space for workstations
# of accessible workstations
Signs & documentation
Assistive Hardware (e.g. keyboards, trackballs, etc.)
Assistive Software
Pay to Print stations
Training student workers
Deadline for compliance
• Developed a checklist based on the standards
• Added language to purchasing policies requiring
procurement (purchase or otherwise) of
accessible information and technology
• Added language to RFP and contracts for
accessibility & remediation
• Developed an Exceptions Request form and
process workflow
Exceptions Request form
• Name & description of the product or resource
• Who is the audience? (and indicate approximately how many of each
• What is the cost? (single year and/or recurring)
• Accessibility Roadmap? (and if so what's the timeline for compliance?)
• Describe how it is used.
• Is it currently in use?
• Which of the 508 category(ies) is relevant to the product?
• Is it required for coursework or job function?
• What exception category (specified in section 508) are you requesting?
• Explain why it meets the exception.
• Describe the reasonable accommodation you will provide.
Exception Request work flow
• Accessibility Liaison (or individual if there is no Accessibility
Liaison) submits request to [email protected]
• Proof to make sure everything’s OK (may request clarification
on some items or revision to request if it is incomplete)
• Write up an executive summary of the request
• Request form and executive summary sent to ATCC for
review and decision (decision is requested within 6 business
• ATCC may request clarification on some items
• Decision is sent to Accessibility Liaison (or initial requestor)
• Workflows are in place render video course reserves accessible (mixture of
purchase and captioning in Ensemble.)
• Conducting an year-long review of all 500 database platforms and alerting
vendors to compliance issues.
• Remediated primary website (library.temple.edu) and several secondary sites.
• Engaged vendors of several major systems (e.g., Innovative for OPAC, OCLC for
CONTENTdm) to press with other universities for improvements in their
• Library programmers working with vendors to make products accessible:
– Springshare’s LibChat.
– Contributed to Omeka (open source software for online exhibition.)
• Joined HathiTrust and set up proxy system for print disabled so they can have
full-text access to the 13 million books, journals, etc.
• Adopted Ares as new course reserve platform to improve accessibility of textual
course reserves scanned in the library. (Accessible content still challenging.)
Instructional Materials
• Surveyed file types on Learning Management
System (Blackboard)
• Prioritized creation of checklists for the top four
types of content first:
• Incorporating Universal Design aspects in
Empower others to act
Launched Website
• Website launched to act as a clearinghouse for:
– Policies
– Guidelines
– How-to materials
– Quick tips
– Link to community
Empowerment – in many forms
• Had Deans appoint “Accessibility Liaisons” in
each school or college & formed committee
• Purchased a tool to allow users to audit their
own web content/sites/systems
• Distributed guidelines for computer labs and
learning spaces
• Bi-weekly meetings with Accessibility Liaison
Make it easy in the beginning
Quick wins
• Survey and remediate Computer Services’ centrally owned/managed
learning spaces & computer labs first:
– Largest and most heavily used labs were remediated first
– Received feedback on the standards and checklists to improve and clarify
– Early remediation allowed us to determine average remediation costs
• Update all control panels in smart classrooms owned by Computer
Services so they ‘talk’
• Launched new web accessibility standards at university wide web
designers meeting
• Creative Services works with contractors to make sure new websites are
• Hired a visually impaired student worker to assist with testing new web
based applications developed in-house
Stay with it
Sometimes things take time
• Instructional materials guidelines
12 months and they still weren’t finished
Reboot after 5 months
Switched from policy to checklists with How-To’s
Engaged larger group of faculty to assist with determining
how to tweak them for better adoption
• Web auditing software
– Slow adoption rate from web masters/designers
– Used a university wide broken links initiative to introduce
staff to the software
Annual Reports
• Understand how each school/college is
progressing via annual report. Addresses:
– How well we communicated the initiative
– Web sites
– Instructional materials
– Learning spaces
– Computer labs
Budget – how much was spent?
• Central funding covered $500,000 during the first year for:
Remediating computer labs (central and schools/colleges)
Remediating learning spaces
Software to audit websites
Consulting and training
• Individual Schools/Colleges and Administrative Units have
spent $83,000 during the first year for:
– Remediating computer labs
– Captioning
Note: figures do not include personnel costs
Lessons learned
• Sometimes it takes a while to get a workable
• Deadlines are good, but be flexible
• Communication is key (particularly top down)
• Spread out the work (form working groups)
• People want to help, make it easy for them
• Don’t come with all the answers, let people be a
part of the process
• Include representatives from facilities
• Be flexible (i.e. exceptions request form)
On your journey
• Enjoy the good
• Don’t let the bad drag you down
• Accessibility, like penguins,
isn’t always black and white
[email protected]
[email protected]
Photo credits
Toothless Shark by Claire at Matchingpegs.com, used by permission
“Control!” by Faramarz Hashemi © 2005 and made available under a Attribution
Generic 2.0 license
“Penguin” by cnystrom © 2005 and made available under a Attribution-NoDerivs
Generic 2.0 license
“Penguin Group Small”, “Trekking across the Antarctic Ice and Snow” and “JV-091112
4425” by Antarctica Bound © 2010 and made available under a Attribution-NoDerivs
Generic 2.0 license
Marival II bridge by Matti Mattila © 2011 and made available under a AttributionNonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 license
“Adelie Penguin Dive on Paulet Island, Antarctica” by nick_russill © 2007 and made
available under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Generic 2.0 license
“Ice cased Adelie penguins after a blizzard at Cape Denison” photograph by Frank
Hurley provided by State Library of New South Wales
“King Penguin Chick at Salisbury Plain” by Liam Quinn © 2011 under a AttributionShareAlike 2.0 Generic license
Resources for the presentation
• Influence: How and why people agree to things by
Robert Cialdini, 1984; William and Morrow and
Company; 0688015603.
• The 21 irrefutable laws of leadership: Follow them and
people will follow you by John C. Maxwell, 2007;
Thomas Nelson Publishing; 9780785288374.
• Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under
Any Conditions, John Kotter, 2006; St. Martin’s Press;
• Current Litigation in Higher Ed

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