Even a gazillion dollar industry like the National Football League can be blind to accessibility needs, at times. Perhaps, even, color blind. If you have not seen it, be sure to look at this video of the game in which they had the two teams wear special jerseys all of one color…
While we don’t have a gazillion dollar budget, WCET and the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) are partnering to help our members on addressing accessibility issues…and we need your help on what activities will best help you.
We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know
While we in the educational technology and distance education world can also fall short at times, it is not for a lack of trying. Our friends at the Instructional Technology Council (ITC) Network conduct an annual survey of their (mostly) community college membership. Below, I chart the results of one of their questions, which was featured in a recent article about the “confidence” in institutional accessibility compliance.
The “Completely” or “Mostly” compliant options were chosen by 73% of respondents in 2008. That number fell to only 33% in the most recent survey.
I’ve used this graphic in discussions and presentations over the last year and asked “why?” Are we getting worse at this? The answer is almost uniformly that we did not know all we needed to know back in 2008. And, even today, there is more to learn.
OLC and WCET Partnering to Help Our Members
After a year of searching for an issue on which WCET and the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) could partner to help both memberships, accessibility was chosen. As stated by Kathleen Ives, OLC’s Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director:
“Advancements in technologies intending to make academic life easier present challenges for students who have disabilities. The need for more accessible services and devices proves to be an educational imperative so they can be used by all students of all abilities.”
Our partnership kicked-off this week with a joint webinar that explained some of the basic issues. You are encouraged to view the archive of it. Moving forward, watch for more webinars, papers, blogs, and conference sessions on these issues.
BUT, We Need Your Help!
One of our first efforts was to create a survey that seeks to gain data on the following issues:
- What are attitudes of a variety of people on campuses surrounding accessibility?
- Are there structures in place on campus to support accessibility?
- How can we help?
We are hearing that there is still lots of confusion about what is required and what should be done regardless of requirements. Based on the survey responses, OLC and WCET will plan professional development offerings to help meet the needs that you identify.
The survey is focused on institutional based personnel. If you work at an institution, please take the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WJFWVY5
Watch for more information in the future.
Director, Policy & Analysis
WCET – The WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies
firstname.lastname@example.org | @russpoulin