Tuesday, July 12, 2022
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New campus committee will give attention to digital accessibility

On this 2017 picture, a staffer at UC Berkeley’s Disabled College students’ Program transcribes a written tutorial slide on chemistry for college students who wouldn’t have the ability to simply learn the display throughout a course lecture.
(Picture by Noah Berger)

UC Berkeley has launched a brand new high-level committee that can give attention to ensuring the campus’s digital infrastructure is accessible to everybody – from blind employees who use display readers to relate what they see on internet pages to deaf college students who want captions to comply with a video lecture. 

The brand new Info Expertise Accessibility Coverage Advisory Committee will report on to Govt Vice Chancellor and Provost (EVCP) Ben Hermalin and be a conduit to carry “campuswide selections and points straight to the EVCP,” stated Ella Callow, co-chair of the committee and director of Berkeley’s Workplace of Incapacity Entry and Compliance

The objective is to ensure the accessibility of Berkeley’s digital properties is as excessive a precedence because the accessibility of programming and of buildings, which have been audited and remediated for many years with ramps, elevators and different lodging. 

“What we wish to do is be certain that the digital area continues to be an increasing number of accessible in the identical manner that we proceed to enhance bodily accessibility,” Callow stated. “It must be considered in precisely the identical manner.”

Over 4,000 college students are registered with the campus Disabled College students’ Program, and greater than 20% of employees, college and college students self-report as disabled. 

The committee will function a house for the in depth data know-how (IT) accessibility work — throughout virtually a dozen campus entities — that has been happening over the past decade. Priorities embrace evangelizing accessibility requirements throughout the 65,000-person campus group, updating guidelines for procuring new know-how and supporting researchers, instructors and different stakeholders. The committee members will embrace college students, employees and college. 

“Having that construction and intentionality is what it’s a must to have to handle these points,” Callow stated.

Committee co-chair Jenn Stringer, the affiliate vice chancellor for IT and chief data officer at Berkeley, stated that the creation of the committee would imply the work of digital accessibility “isn’t just behind the scenes anymore.”

“We’re participating with the committee to make sure that we’re not simply implementing coverage, however that we’re participating with the group to make sure that individuals have entry,” stated Stringer, who makes use of captions to comply with most Zoom conferences. “For us, this can be a civil rights situation, this can be a social justice situation. Berkeley understands that higher than anybody, and maybe that’s why we’ve been quietly doing all this work, as a result of that’s what we do.”

This video exhibits many alternative views and conditions on the subject of internet accessibility. (Video by the Net Accessibility Initiative)

The launch of the committee follows a string of successes in bettering digital accessibility at Berkeley, together with: 

  • 2012: Open Berkeley, a low-cost web site answer that builds accessibility and safety into the platform, together with Berkeley branding, was piloted. Berkeley IT launched Open Berkeley throughout the campus in 2015.

  • 2018: A full-time ADA/Part 504 compliance officer was employed and the Workplace of Incapacity Entry and Compliance (DAC) was created. Of the six present DAC employees, 4 are disabled individuals and the bulk are BIPOC. 

  • 2018: SiteImprove, an automatic testing device that screens public-facing web sites and supplies a report of accessibility points that may trigger web sites to be unusable by individuals with disabilities, was launched. 

  • 2018: Berkeley’s Analysis, Educating, and Studying Providers developed and delivered ongoing synchronous and asynchronous coaching and assets to help instructors’ creation of Net Content material Accessibility Pointers (WCAG)2.0 AA-compliant digital content material. Degree AA is the extent utilized in most accessibility guidelines and rules worldwide. 

  • 2019: DAC created a grievance course of for disabled individuals, whose complaints have included these experiencing obstacles within the digital area. 

  • 2020: DAC, in response to the pandemic and the campus closure, created a useful resource web page and supplied coaching on holding accessible distant occasions. This data contains how you can safe and supply Communication Entry Realtime Translation and American Signal Language for on-line occasions and how you can create captioning for video of on-line occasions posted to web sites. 

  • 2020: Analysis Educating and Studying Providers developed WCAG 2.0 AA- compliant and pedagogically-effective studying administration system templates for instructors to ship distant and on-line educating and studying alternatives for his or her college students.

  • 2021: DAC and Berkeley’s IT division collaborated to handle a working docket of IT issues delivered to them by consumers, stakeholders, internet directors, college students, employees, college and non-affiliates. Thus far, virtually 100 advanced issues have been resolved, and work continues. 

  • 2021: Berkeley banned no-code web site platforms and accessibility overlays, each of which cut back accessibility. All Berkeley web sites are required so as to add an accessibility hyperlink to their dwelling pages so disabled individuals can find Berkeley’s accessibility coverage, grievance portal and non-discrimination assertion.

  • 2022: Over 270 campus web sites are utilizing Open Berkeley as their web site platform.

  • 2022: Berkeley supplied $2 million to help a three-year challenge to carry the highest 200 most traveled, public-facing Berkeley web sites into compliance with the WCAG 2.0 AA normal.

However even regardless of these achievements, Callow acknowledged that there would at all times be work for Berkeley to do to make its web sites and digital instruments universally accessible. 

“Accessibility is a objective you are attempting to achieve,” she stated. “Nothing will ever be totally accessible for everybody, whether or not you’re speaking about structure or the digital area. It’s important to personal that there’ll at all times be a brand new problem.” 

“You’re by no means going to have the ability to verify packing containers off and say you’re finished, nor ought to we give it some thought that manner,” she added. “This can be a residing course of.”

Members of the campus group ought to really feel assured that their colleagues are prepared to help them and collaborate with them to make sure entry for disabled individuals at Berkeley. Any concern may be raised as both an situation of concern or a proper grievance by means of the reporting system on the DAC web site. Moreover, group members can contact DAC by way of e-mail.



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