Adelle Frank, Georgia Institute of Technology
In this interview, Janet Sylvia (WAG Coordinator and Accessibility Specialist at AMAC) discusses web accessibility with Adelle Frank (Web Developer Manager Senior at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Institute Communications).
Janet: How or when did you get started with web accessibility?
Adelle: In my first full-time web development position, I was lucky enough to work with a great accessibility advocate, Arthur Murphy (Aeolian Solutions, LLC and Arthur Murphy Twitter). He helped write the original section 508 standards for equal access via various technologies. I was already committed to the ideal that people should have equal rights, and Arthur inspired me to apply that to website access, too.
Janet: Why do you think web accessibility is important?
Adelle: That same nebulous drive toward open knowledge, which led to a degree in library science, makes me want all information to be easy to use. My slight obsession with clean and well-organized code might also be a contributing factor.
Janet: How do you currently incorporate web accessibility into your work?
Adelle: Whenever I'm helping someone learn how to edit a web page, I mention a few easy things they can do and quickly explain why it matters. In fact, I've even made guides to them in our online documentation. In addition, when I'm working with folks on a web site or project, I try to speak up about any accessibility concerns I have, as well as offering my ideas for how to solve them. Heck, we even managed to add real-time captioning to the live streaming video of our 250th commencement this year. This was a win for remote attendees with hearing issues, but also for those with cognitive disabilities! I also participate in a committee that meets to try and figure out what accessibility resources my campus needs, and how we might get them.
Janet: What inspires you to continue this important work?
Adelle: Knowing that I help make my corner of the web a little better, a little easier to use. And that I can help other good people share their content as widely and universally as possible.
Janet: What advice do you have for others (newcomers, colleagues) regarding web accessibility?
Adelle: One of the concepts from seminary (another story) that I took to heart was the idea of always seeking, but never reaching, perfection. Even today, people can still probably find some accessibility error in our templates or in a particular feature we've added to a site. As technology changes, we have to grow and learn better and new ways to keep producing accessible code and content. To put it another way: Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. My mentor always emphasized that 508 was about reasonable accommodation - when you have little or no budget, some forms of accessibility may be out of your current reach. But that doesn't mean you give up on the whole idea! Instead, you do what you can, get help from those who offer, and always seek to be better.
Janet: Is there anything else you would like to mention?
Adelle: Just the insider secret that accessibility is sometimes abbreviated as "a11y" online. It can be a useful tip for newcomers, if you're following hashtags.
Janet: Special thanks to WAG Member Adelle Frank for sharing her story and inspiring us to help make the web more accessible for all!
Kennesaw State University
In an on-going commitment to web-content accessibility for all Kennesaw State University students, Dr. Elke Leeds and Dr. Jim Cope from KSU's Distance Learning Center (DLC) presented on "Accessibility and Technology-Enhanced Learning" to the Coles College of Business faculty. The presentation was a part of Coles' ongoing "Brown Bag" series lectures coordinated by Dr. Radwan Ali.
In their presentation, Dr. Leeds and Dr. Cope outlined faculty's responsibilities for providing accessible Web-based content for all students in compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. They also shared KSU's ongoing efforts to provide accessibility for web content, and focused on specific things faculty members can do to meet the needs of all students.
KSU's DLC provides leadership in helping faculty meet students' accessibility needs in all online courses. This support includes a new DLC website that provides information on DLC services to faculty and students. One important service is the captioning of faculty video and audio files so that faculty can use a wide variety of media to engage all of their students. The DLC also employees five instructional designers who help faculty produce high quality, accessible course materials. This design support is embedded in KSU's online course review process, but the designers also help faculty members review existing courses to ensure 100% accessibility compliance.
KSU is committed to web-content accessibility for all KSU students. Drs. Leeds' and Cope's presentation underscored the strides KSU is making in meeting the needs of web learners and previewed exciting changes that are coming.
- Dr. Elke Leeds, Assistant Vice President of Technology Enhanced Learning & Executive Director of the Distance Learning Center
- Dr. Jim Cope, Associate Director of the Distance Learning Center and Professor of English and English Education.
Georgia Gwinnett College
WAG members Rycca Blanton, Vala Clark, Valarie Reeves, David Robinson and Linda Gilbert at Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) have been working to raise awareness about web accessibility and Section 508 compliance.
In January 2013 Rycca Blanton and Vala Clark organized a campus-wide panel discussion that lasted from 10:00am-4:00pm. The day began with a presentation for GGC about Section 508: overview, policies, issues in higher education, implementation strategies and techniques. In the afternoon, GGC personnel focused on web accessibility as it pertains to specific areas of implementation, such as: Educational Technology, Public Affairs, Academics, Student Affairs, and Disability Services. As a result of this all-day panel discussion, GGC designed a new Web Accessibility Resources page for faculty and staff, which was revealed in conjunction with Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) on May 9, 2013. GAAD announcements were placed on both the GGC public website and the internal portal. The portal directed GGC personnel to the newly created Web Accessibility Resources page to obtain information about: GGC’s Commitment to Web Accessibility, USG Policies and Accessibility Tutorial, Web Accessibility Checklists and Checkers, Desire2Learn Accessibility, and instructions for Making Your Files Accessible (Word, PDF, PowerPoint, HTML, Excel and Videos/Multimedia).
Special thanks to GGC for their ongoing efforts to raise awareness about web accessibility and helping to make web-based content more accessible for all audiences.
Nominate a Spotlight
Do you know an individual or group doing great things in the area of web accessibility? Nominate our next WAG Spotlight by emailing the following information to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Name of person or group
- Organization and/or Institute of Higher Education
- Role or job title
- How/when did this person (or group) get started with web accessibility?
- Why does this person (or group) think web accessibility is important?
- How does this person (or group) incorporate web accessibility into their current work?
- What inspires this person (or group) to continue this important work?<br.
- What advice does this person (or group) have for others (newcomers, colleagues) regarding web accessibility?
- Anything else you would like to mention?