ATI: Accessible Technology Initiative—Year Two
One of the more challenging priorities of the ATI is to ensure that all instructional materials are accessible. Last summer, the campus ATI committees sponsored an ATI Course Makeover Summer Camp with the expertise of the Technology and Learning Program (TLP). Funds were provided by the Ensuring Access through Collaboration and Technology (EnACT) grant and the Accessible Technology Initiative (ATI).
During a two-day summer camp, faculty learned about Universal Design for Learning, instructional material accessibility in Word, PowerPoint, and Vista in a relaxed, supportive environment.
One participant, Kathryn Schifferle from Finance and Marketing, said, “As a result of the makeover, we developed a consistent syllabus to use for all of the Marketing 305 classes. I presented a template for an accessible syllabus to all department participants. I can’t imagine a simpler, more beneficial opportunity to improve both the learning and the assessment processes. TLP provided a great learning experience.”
Accessible Materials Critical
Students with learning disabilities, visual impairment, or an inability to turn pages of a book qualify as having a print disability. The ATI ensures that instructional materials be accessible. DSS works collaboratively with many departments on campus to provide this critical accommodation.
Martha Hitchcock, a graduate student in social work, said, “Getting my books in an accessible format allows me the freedom to be like any other student! I wanted to cry the first time I opened a truly accessible document.”
Where do we go from here?
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a simple and promising approach. It goes beyond accessible architectural design for people with disabilities to make all aspects of the educational experience more inclusive for students in general, including aspects related to gender, race, ethnicity, and age.
“Chico State staff and faculty have done a tremendous job implementing the expectations of the ATI, said Sandy Parsons, director of DSS. “Our campus plans, processes, and specific projects have been highlighted at statewide conferences, offered as best practices and examples of excellence. The current budget crisis limits some resources, but the goal is that a revised coded memo will be reasonable without sacrificing real progress and that the course ahead is based on the accomplishments so far.”
A first step: making your syllabus accessible
The syllabus is a perfect place to start evaluating your course materials for accessibility because it is most likely distributed to students electronically and contains information in a variety of forms. Making your syllabus accessible will familiarize you with most important features of an accessible document of any type. To begin (1) come to TLP’s Workshop, (2) read the tutorials and checklists, and (3) use the accessible syllabus template.
For help with the process, visit the TLP Accessibility Web site at http://www.csuchico.edu/tlp/accessibility/syllabus/. For more information about the ATI, contact Sandy Parsons, DSS director and ATI project manager, firstname.lastname@example.org.
California State University, Chico
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Chico, CA 95929-0040