Celebration of Faculty and Staff Learning

In the period between July 1, 2018 and the end of the fiscal year 2018/19, the Campus accessibility specialist met with various groups on campus. These meetings included:

  • 4 FDO workshops (25 attendees)
  • 4 Summer open labs (4 attendees)
  • Digital Accessibility for Educators 3 day workshop for UIS faculty and staff (17 attendees)
  • Department Meetings (39 attendees)
  • Individual meetings (24 attendees)

The FDO workshops focused on specific software accessibility, and copyright considerations. The Summer open labs and Individual meetings focused on specific needs faculty and staff had with accessibility. Department meetings mostly focused on general accessibility topics, and plans moving forward. The workshop was an intensive three day training event in Word, PDF, PowerPoint and video.

Amy Cantrall (Human Resources) assists her office in making sure all PowerPoints, PDFs, and other documents are accessible. She attended the Digital Accessibility for Educators Workshop led by Vance Martin in October 2018 along with her coworker, Tony Lozzi, and together they review all files from their office for accessibility. They have been able to significantly update their department’s website to make it more accessible for future and current employees. Their aim is to make everyone feel welcome at UIS, not only as students, but as employees, so having accessible files is essential for the university’s representation. Before any files are posted online, all go through Amy and Tony for accessibility review.


In the fiscal year 2018/19 The Campus Accessibility Specialist and other faculty collaborated with external groups.

  • Microsoft Accessibility Team, working with Microsoft engineers to meet accessibility needs
  • University of Illinois Urbana Champaign Accessibility Liaison Group
  • Digital Accessibility for Educators Workshop, Richland Community College, June 18-20, 2019
  • Consulting with College of Lake County, Elgin Community College, Greenville University, Kaskaskia College, Spoon River College, and Richland College
  • Cook, V.S., Schroeder, R. Boles, E., Gribbins, M, and Martin, V.S. (2018, August) Emerging Technologies. Pre-conference workshop at the 34th Distance Teaching and Learning Conference, Madison, WI.
  • Martin, V.S., Gribbins, M., and Cook, V.S. (2018, September) Affordably managing accessibility compliance: A pilot using student workers. UPCEA Central Region Conference September 26-28, St. Louis, MO.
  • Cook, V.S., Craig, T., Gribbins, M. and Martin V.S. (2018, November) Technology trends impact on higher education and student learning in 2018. Workshop at OLC Accelerate 2018 November 14-16, Orlando, FL.
  • Gribbins, M., Holland, J.D., Juma'h, A., and Saunders, T. (2019, February) Faculty members experiences adopting open educational resources: The OER faculty fellows program at UIS. Presentation at the forty-forth annual ICCHE Conference, Charleston, IL.
  • Martin, V.S. (2019, February) Building an accessible future for all learners. Presentation at the forty-forth annual ICCHE Conference, Charleston, IL.
  • Martin, V.S. (2019, February) Accessibility: A civil right. Keynote address at Growing Online Learning Conference 2019 . Springfield, IL (Invited)
  • Bonnett, J., Goulet, E. Holland, J.D., and Saunders, T. (2019, March) Open educational resources fellows programs for individual faculty. FDO Workshop UIS
  • Martin, V.S. & Thompson, M. (May 2019) Screenshot to accessible math. Presentation at Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) 2019. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL.
  • Boles, E., Bonnett, J., Holland, J.D., and Martin, V.S. (May 2019) The OER faculty fellows program at UIS. Faculty Summer Institute, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL.
  • Gribbins, M., Martin, V.S., Morsch, L., and Wilding-Martin, E.C. (May 2019) Engaging online students in math and science. Kaskaskia College, Centralia, IL
Jessica Bonnett and David Holland team teach a large Human Anatomy and Physiology course for health science majors. In years past, an expensive text book was required in addition to the lab manual, which students were hesitant to purchase. The Open Education Resource (OER) Program provided a solution. Once a suitable Openstax text book was identified, they collaborated with the campus accessibility specialist and COLRS student workers to ensure the textbook met accessibility requirements. The Openstax textbook adequately covered course material that was not included in the lab manual. The process was definitely worth the extra time and effort involved to ensure that all students had free access to a supporting textbook. Student surveys indicated that the majority of students in the class routinely utilized the online textbook throughout the course.”

Student Workers

In Fall 2018, the accessibility student workers continued the work began in fiscal year 2017/18. Two student workers returned from the Spring, and two new workers were hired to replace two who had left. In December, one of the original student workers left, he was replaced in the Spring.

The student workers completed 1225 total files in 2018/19. In last years' report work was being finalized on a metric for student output, which is now complete. Part of this metric is the total number of files, the total units within the files, including page count for Word and PDF, slide count for PowerPoints, and minutes for videos. The students time their work to determine the average time it takes to complete a specific type of file, and the cost associated with each type of project. Currently, the average time it takes a student to remediate files is 2.6 minutes per Word page, 1.1 minutes per PDF page, 1.4 minutes per PowerPoint slide, and 3.24 minutes per minute of video.

Fall 2018 Total units and averages
Spring 2019 Total units and averages

Fall 2018

  • In the Fall of 2018 two non-returning students were replaced, and training began for the two new students.
  • Transcripts were offered along with the captioning, including audio descriptions in the captions and transcripts. This takes more time, and has increased the time it takes to finish videos.
  • 50 classes were completed this semester.
  • In the Fall an accessibility needs survey was sent out to the departments. One of the most frequent requests was to make handouts available for accessibility. Handouts had been developed the previous year. These have been shared on the COLRS blog. Currently 79 individuals have viewed the materials and 27 have downloaded materials.
  • CommonLook, a PDF remediation plugin was purchased to help student workers.
  • With the help of the accessibility student workers 17 faculty and staff were trained at the 3 day Digital Accessibility for Educators workshop.
  • The Brookens library staff has partnered on accessibility and began offering accessible course e-reserves for all Fall classes.

Spring 2019

  • UIS purchased campus licensing for Equatio. Equatio is digital math software, with the additional benefit of helping speed up the process of making math more accessible in Word, PDF, and PowerPoint files.
  • 15 classes were completed this semester.
  • A more in depth project related to accessibility and an ongoing project began with the launch of the Open Educational Resources Fellows program. Eight faculty worked on twelve classes to make free educational resources available for their students, in many cases replacing expensive textbooks purchased, with free alternatives. All course materials were required to be accessible, so the student workers completed the materials for six classes. Two of the classes were Anatomy and Physiology I and II, the textbook for these classes required many hours of work totaling almost twenty-five percent of the total work of the students in the Spring. While the total metrics for Spring may appear lower, the student workers completed four full textbooks, for four classes, and the other materials for two more classes. The completed class materials were in Biology, Sociology, and Accounting.

Pamela Scott, Library Specialist

In order to comply with ADA standards and make materials more accessible to our students, the Brookens Library began remediating all online reserve items for machine readability and accessibility during the Summer Session of 2018. Since fewer classes are offered during the summer, reserve requests are also lighter. This made it a good time to put new procedures and workflows into place.

There was a fairly steep learning curve at first. The library has posted PDFs on Blackboard for a number of years, but there had never been an attempt to make the documents accessible before now. "Vance spent a lot of time getting me up to speed on what to look for and how to make our PDFs accessible. My background in introductory web design, including classes in CSS and HTML, came in handy because I quickly found out that the coding for accessibility had many similarities with HTML," Pamela shared.

Once the Fall semester began, the number of requests increased, especially during the first two months of the semester. One of the library’s grad assistants, Taylor Vazquez, was trained in the remediation process, and she was a big help in keeping turnaround time low. Every time a faculty reserve request came in the library staff informed the professor of the new accessibility requirements and encouraged them to give as much lead time as possible on future requests since this added time to the workflow.

Because faculty often reuse favorite articles when they teach certain classes, the library keeps archives of what is posted online. The library staff have modified the file names to reflect whether or not the files have been remediated, which will streamline the process of posting items if they are used again.

After an entire year of making files accessible, the process is becoming more routine and taking less time as experience is gained. "We still need help from the Accessibility Office occasionally, particularly on files that contain lots of graphs and charts, but most of the time we are able to get files prepared and posted with only an extra day or two of turnaround time. Our faculty have been understanding of the additional time involved and appreciative of the results," Pamela Scott wrote.

Blog hits

Every two weeks during the school year an accessibility related post appears on the COLRS blog. In 2018/19 this was 11 posts. These 11 posts were read 87 times

The 37 total accessibility posts on the blog were read 500 times.

The reading or hits from the accessibility posts account for a little over 7% of total site views.

Illinois Online Network

The Illinois Online Network (ION) is housed in COLRS and offers continuing education to online instructors throughout the state of Illinois. The Campus Accessibility Specialist designed three classes on accessibility for ION in 2017/18. Successful completion of these three classes along with an existing class on Universal Design for Learning will earn the ION student a Digital Accessibility Badge. In fiscal year 2018/19, 47 people took classes in the ION Digital Accessibility for Educators online program. This is double the number who completed the program in the previous year.

The Future

World-Class Teaching

Continuous improvement on digital course materials to reach all students.

Continue to partner with faculty on increasing the number of accessible files available to all students in all courses.

Personal Attention

Continue to work with offices to improve digital materials shared by units across campus.

Experience Engaged

Office space for student workers is being redesigned for a better working experience for student workers. These student workers will leave UIS with a very marketable and timely skill set

Liberal Arts Skilled

Continuous improvement in problem solving of ongoing and continuously changing websites will require solid problem solving and collaboration among faculty, staff, and students across campus

For more information on digital accessibility contact:

Vance S. Martin, PhD




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