This past June, Yale colleagues attended a NERCOMP workshop, Web Accessibility in Higher Education, in Norwood, Massachusetts. The focus of the one-day workshop was improving accessibility of digital resources in higher education. Two Yale staff members were presenters at the workshop, Lisa Sawin, Director of User Experience & Digital Strategy, and Michael Harris, Information Architect also at User Experience & Digital Strategy. Lisa Sawin gave an overview of accessibility and why it is important. Micheal Harris followed up with information on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), guidelines for creating accessible digital resources.
Also in attendance from Yale was Tracy MacMath, User Interface Programmer at Library IT. Tracy’s attendance was sponsored by DiversAbility at Yale also known as DAY. DAY creates an open and inclusive environment for all individuals impacted by disability through engagement, education and advocacy. DAY is open to all Yale staff, faculty, and postdocs, with or without a disability.
The workshop was designed to educate designers, developers and administrators. The workshop also provided tools and resources to improve the accessibility of an institution’s digital content. The workshop attendees were well represented drawing from a variety of roles and perspectives.
One large takeaway of the workshop was with the demonstration of a screen reader, which allows blind or visually impaired users to hear the content of the page read to them through a speech synthesizer. The demo reviewed a website to see how accessible it was for blind or visually impaired users. Attendees were able to experience the difficulty in accessing information that blind or visually impaired users would experience if a page was not structured properly. The demonstration illustrated how important accessibility is when creating digital resources for higher education, the resources need to be accessible for all end users. It is the core mission of an educational institution to provide equal access to educational opportunities.
Links to Resources:
For more information about developing and designing for accessibility you can visit ITS’s webpage at: http://usability.yale.edu/.