Expanding Access Quarterly Office of Access, Inclusion, and Compliance, Division of Extension

Spring 2020

Xenophobia: Addressing the pandemic nature of a social virus

by Dominic J. Ledesma

The Division of Extension joins the UW-Madison campus leadership, Asian American Studies Program, the Chican@ and Latin@ Studies Program Faculty, and other members of the UW community in publicly denouncing a wave of xenophobic and racist nativist acts prompted by the current COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement released on March 26, Chancellor Blank referenced an increase in biased incidents that have targeted “Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi-American students and employees, particularly those from or perceived to be from China and East Asia.” Campus leadership has formally addressed at least two specific incidents, one involving bias against residents living in University Apartments and the other related to graffiti that appeared on campus in late March.

The Asian American Studies Program posted two pictures to their Facebook page of graffiti that was written the evening of March 24. Two different messages appeared in two separate, but close locations on campus that receive a high volume of pedestrian traffic. Similarities between the messages suggest that they were written by the same person(s). One message was chalked on the corner of State and Lake, less than a block away from the Extension building at 432 N. Lake. Both messages included content that perpetuate xenophobic and racist nativist sentiments.

In solidarity with the statements released by other campus units, the Office of Access, Inclusion, and Compliance formally expresses our support for all members of the UW community, whether housed on campus or in one of our Extension offices statewide. To persons affected by what we—and many others—consider to be inexcusable acts of symbolic violence, we would like to reiterate the supports and resources that are available for students, staff, and faculty.

Xenophobia and racist nativism are not new concepts; they are not new to campus, the state of Wisconsin, or U.S. society in general. They represent a particular strain of virus that is social in nature. Xenophobia, in general terms, is described as the “fear and angst toward outsiders” while racist nativism is often characterized by dictating the terms of “who belongs here and who doesn’t belong here.” Xenophobic and racist nativist rhetoric, including more overt examples like the graffiti on campus, are rooted in ignorance and a baseless disdain toward “others.” Both are leveraged as tools to divide people and communities. The aim? To propagate attitudes that diminish and marginalize the existence of persons we perceive to be different from ourselves.

Expressions of xenophobia or racist nativism toward any group, whether during a pandemic or not, runs contrary to our values as a UW community and undermines our collective efforts to form a more welcoming and inclusive environment.

While campus has made this point abundantly clear, perhaps Chancellor Blank put it best by stating “COVID-19 has affected all of us personally, academically and professionally, as well as physically, mentally, and socially. Even so, it’s important to remember: No one person, country, or ethnicity created this pandemic—disease does not discriminate.” Thus, as we contemplate our collective responsibility to each other during these challenging times, we must also consider ways to “flatten the curve” on the pandemic effects of xenophobia, racist nativism, and other menacing social viruses.

Accessibility in the time of COVID-19

by Heather Stelljes, Extension Access Consultant

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to widen, and the need for alternative programming continues to stretch out before us, please keep accessibility in the forefront of your mind when planning and disseminating program materials. Be it virtual, video, or print materials, consider how your programming may be used or accessed by folks with a variety of needs or circumstances. The reality is that individuals with disabilities are often disproportionately impacted by emergencies. We also know that a mobile device may be the only access to the internet, and we are aware of the realities of limited bandwidth. With so many different needs and different circumstances to consider, there is no time like the present to ensure that what is being put out there works for as many users as possible. The following tips will ensure accessibility for online programming or documents.

  1. Provide clear structure of content. Make any products simple and intuitive. Directions should be clear and organized. Use plain language. Distance often requires more structure than face to face programming, as there less interaction. Additionally, knowing the expected outcomes helps increase focus and learning. Strong and simple organization allow users to succeed accessing the material the first time, whenever and wherever that may be.
  2. Caption videos. When the Division of Extension creates any public facing media, it needs to have captioning and alternate text for images to be compliant with a few different federal laws. Only time-synced and verbatim captions provide truly equitable access. As such, professional, quality captions are required and can be acquired through contracted vendors. There are tools for captioning videos yourself, but that is only suggested only for short videos. Two external tools you may consider for independently captioning short videos are the following: CADET Tool and Section 508 Accessibility Training Videos
  3. Describe images. Images, tables, infographics, and other visuals can be excellent tools for conveying knowledge in videos, PowerPoints, and documents. They can increase focus and distill complicated information, so while their use is encouraged, images must be described when they appear on screen. This is true for presentations (live or recorded) or when sharing any document. This includes not only giving a physical description of the image but covering the content and function of the image.
  4. Create accessible documents, whether Word, Google, or PDF. Some key concepts to apply in creating accessible documents include the following:
  • Use headings
  • Use strong color contrasts and avoid pattern backgrounds
  • Text should be at least 12 point and font should be clear and easy to read, with a good amount of white space
  • Use lists that are bulleted or numbered
  • Add alternate text to images that describe the image and its purpose
  • If tables are necessary, make sure column and row headings are included and informative

The Center for Digital Accessibility and User Experience is a great resource for learning more about and applying accessibility practices, and offers specific guides for a variety of accessible content. You can find specific how-to instructions for common document formats for the following products:

5. Establish participation rules for a virtual meeting. Apply some of the same practices done internally by passing on the following tips to participants prior to any virtual meeting:

  • Circulate content prior to meeting
  • Mute when joining the meeting
  • Use of chat function for question or notifying of comments
  • Allow for more and longer pauses between speakers
  • Identify self when speaking if not called on

Use Zoom's polling feature to collect demographic information

Transforming your programs from in-person to virtual presents many challenges but collecting the demographic information on your participants doesn’t have to be one of them. Zoom’s polling feature to the rescue!

Once you have scheduled your Zoom event, create a poll that will be ready when you conduct your program. Use the demographics form template as a guide. Be sure to check the “Anonymous” check box. When you conduct your program, assure your participants that their responses are anonymous and that they can choose not to respond.

Example of poll for collecting demographic information

To generate a poll report after your event, log into your Zoom account and navigate to Reports. On the Usage Reports page, follow the prompts to select a poll report for your specific event. Once the report has been generated it will automatically download and can be opened in Excel, Notepad, or any other application compatible with the .CSV format. Remember to download your results soon after your event because Meeting reports are automatically deleted 30 days after the scheduled date (Webinars after a year).

Photo: Dr. Angie Allen (back row, third from left) at the May 2019 Sauk County-Milwaukee County Rural/Urban FLOW Network Strategic Planning Retreat, with creative and agricultural network leaders and Dr. Randy Stoecker, UW-Madison integrated faculty in Rural Sociology with the Division of Extension (far left).

Employee Spotlight: Angie Allen

Job title: Associate Professor and Community Development Educator

Where do you live? I live and am proud to own my home in central city Milwaukee, on the northside, in the Enderis Park neighborhood (in between two wonderful city of Milwaukee parks, Enderis Park and Cooper Park).

Where did you grow up? I was born, raised, and proud to both learn and come to practice community development with my family and neighbors in central city northeast Detroit, Michigan. My extended family has lived in that neighborhood for almost 50 years, and my mom has been in the home I was raised in for almost 40 years now (and is still there).

How many years have you been in Extension? Six years. August 2020 begins year seven.

Tell us a little about your role in Extension: Being an Extension Community Development Educator is never a dull moment anywhere in our state, but especially in our state's most populous city. In addition, our Extension area 21 is one of a few annual revenue generation required areas. Therefore, I've built my education about and engagement of both Wisconsin and Milwaukee from experience with a range of local and local-to-national grant and contract funded educational programs that allowed me to lead, teach, learn and serve in the areas of: community-engaged long-range local community-based cultural arts engaged issue dialogues; regional collective impact with a state agency focused on housing, community economic development, and workforce development; long-range strategic planning for one county department and one municipality; urban agriculture and cultural arts community system coalition building, neighborhood revitalization (focused on building support for resident leadership and engagement with community support organizations), and local nonprofit small business and entrepreneurship organizational development and network building support.

What motivates you in your position? When I came into my position, I was most attracted to the opportunity to use my position to deepen the relationship of people and their stories to what the idea of what it means to want to be a part of where you live means most to you. For many years, I've been focused on trying to realize what the connection of a person or a group's strengths and gifts have to the set of skills that make them most want to engage where they live, as well as what they define as "community". I've been truly honored to work both locally and nationally at the invitation of a couple of different groups of local Milwaukee and statewide Wisconsin resident leaders and decision-makers, across almost all different sectors of the community system (from working with local decision makers across public organizations and community priority areas to neighborhood and block-level residents and resident leaders).

Now, I'm most motivated and excited to focus deeply on what the role of income generation - from self-employment and entrepreneurship to traditional and hybrid employment) means in a focused group of networks of Milwaukee-based audiences - including justice involved families in our region and statewide. I believe this will be a transformative and deeply healing experience for me, not only given my personal background of my experiences coming into my own adulthood and connection to family and community members who have been and still are justice involved, but also to uplifting sustained successes and support with this audience that is so similar (and also very connected) to so many other audiences in any community.

One unique or surprising fact about you that you'd like to share with us: Most people who get to know me best know that my personal cornerstone experience was being one of five "gifted and talented" students total from 3rd to 8th grades in a former, northeast Detroit Lutheran school for the hearing and learning impaired. There I learned the basics of American Sign Language; learned both racism and what it means to truly know love; celebrate others just as we each and all are; began my deep love for reading, writing, and performing original poetry; and developed my love of the outdoors and nature on the school's large and beautiful campus (which is still present, now a well-known private faith-based school).

Extension's resource groups and task forces

Meaningful ways for colleagues to connect and support each other, both professionally and personally, is an indispensable resource for any organization. The Division of Extension’s Employee Resource Groups and Task Forces are one way we promote a positive and inclusive workplace for staff and faculty across the state. Resource groups and task forces provide a critical support network for Extension employees. They can also serve as an advisory resource for improving how our programs and services address the needs of Wisconsin communities statewide.

Below is a brief description of our current resource groups and task forces as well as the name and email of a designated contact person. If you are interested in connecting with these resources to learn more about their specific objectives and efforts, we encourage you to get in touch with the listed contact person(s). Likewise, if you and/or a group of colleagues have an idea for a resource group that expands our current groups, please contact the Office of Access, Inclusion, and Compliance at oaic@extension.wisc.edu.

African American Resource Group (AAERG)

The Division of Extension African American/Black Employee Resource group serves as a resource open to all Extension colleagues interested in fostering the success of African-American/Black colleagues by sponsoring programming and other initiatives that promote: career development; mentoring and guidance; recruitment and retention; and networking and relationship building. The AAERG also aims to foster an environment at Division of Extension that encourages participation in activities that are relevant to the African American/Black community. Contact: Danielle Hairston-Green

Latino Task Force (LTF)

The Latino Taskforce is comprised of UW staff, faculty, and community members. Its purpose is to inform institutional decisions on recruitment and staffing, programs, educational curriculum, outreach efforts, and offers institution-wide professional development training on how to best work with diverse Latino communities throughout Wisconsin. The Taskforce also serves as a professional linkage between the Division of Extension and the greater UW-Madison academic community. In this capacity, the Taskforce will leverage the expertise and resources offered by the greater UW-Madison academic community. Contact: Armando Ibarra

Latinx Employee Resource Group (LERG)

Group photo of members of Latinx Employee Resource Group

For more than 10 years, the Latinx Employee Resource Group (LERG) has provided a source of support and empowerment for Extension’s Latinx employees and allies. LERG currently meets on a quarterly basis throughout the year. Contact: Udaí Olivares

Native American Task Force (NATF)

Extension’s Native American Task Force (NATF) builds relationships and partnerships between UW-Extension, UW Native Nations, and Wisconsin’s Native American communities and organizations. The work of the NATF helps 1) Division of Extension staff work more effectively with Native American communities, 2) build bridges between tribal and non-tribal communities, 3) facilitate communications related to working with Native American audiences, and 3) build working relationships between 1862 Land Grant Institutions, such as UW-Madison, and 1994 Land Grant Institutions. Contacts: Brian Gauthier and Jennifer Gauthier

Map of Native American Tribes of Wisconsin

UW-Madison’s Division of Diversity, Equity, and Educational Achievement (DDEEA) also sponsors several Affinity Groups. While they were originally established to support campus-based faculty and staff, their resources and network of support also extend employees within the Division of Extension. For information on UW-Madison’s Affinity Groups, contact Edward Brown.

Hmong community research showcased in capitol rotunda event

Ariana Thao, student assistant in the Office of Access, Inclusion, and Compliance, participated in the the 17th annual Research in the Rotunda event on March 11, 2020. The event brings together student researchers from across the University of Wisconsin System, together with their faculty advisers, and fills the Capitol Rotunda with their research findings on a variety of important topics with legislators, state and UW leaders, faculty and other supporters.

Ariana's study, Project Hais Lus: Perspectives on language access, cultural barriers, and multilingualism in Wisconsin’s Hmong communities, sought to better understand how language and cultural barriers impact members of the Hmong community and their access to educational programs and services provided by the Division of Extension. Ariana had the opportunity to share her findings with Chancellor Rebecca Blank, Vice Provost Karl Schultz, Representative David Bowen, Senator Jerry Petrowski, Interim Deal Karl Martin, Extension colleagues, fellow researchers, and friends and family. Those who stopped by were most intrigued by the list of topics identified by study participants as Hmong community-based interests, the barriers that mainstream organizations pushed onto Hmong communities, and the how-to in creating multilingual materials.

(Photo at left: Ariana Thao standing next to her research poster at the Research in the Rotunda event in the State Capitol on March 11, 2020.)

Wisconsin Idea Internship Program postponed until 2021

Another casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic is the 2020 Wisconsin Idea Internship Program. We sincerely appreciate the widespread interest and enthusiasm we received from colleagues and the range of outstanding proposals that were submitted. In total, we received 34 proposals for a wide range of positions across all Institutes and from various part of the state. The review committee was ready to award $117K in funding to support 19 interns when a hiring freeze was put in place due to the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic outbreak.

We look forward to building on the momentum created this year and hope to announce the call for proposals for the 2021 program in the fall. If you submitted a proposal during this past cycle and would like a copy for your records, please email your request to Kate Wodyn at oaic@extension.wisc.edu.

New "And Justice For All" posters coming soon

Recently we learned that the "And Justice For All" poster underwent a revision in September 2019. The most obvious change is the poster's image — from the Statue of Liberty to the USDA building in Washington D.C. The poster is the primary method for informing customers of our nondiscrimination policy statement and how to file a civil rights complaint with the USDA. There are two versions: the green version (AD-475A) and the blue version (AD-475B). The green poster is placed in locations where general Extension programming is being conducted, and the blue poster is for used for FoodWIse programs.

We have requested a supply of the new posters from USDA. Until we receive them and can mail copies out to all Extension offices, please continue to display the "old" versions of the poster.

Office of Access, Compliance, and Inclusion

Diversity is a source of strength, creativity, and innovation for UW-Madison. We value the contributions of each person and respect the profound ways their identity, culture, language(s), background, experience, status, abilities, and opinion enrich the university community. We commit ourselves to the pursuit of excellence in teaching, research, outreach, and diversity as inextricably linked goals.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison fulfills its public mission by creating a welcoming and inclusive community for people from every background - people who as students, faculty, and staff serve Wisconsin and the world.

For inquiries related to this publication or if you would like to make a financial gift to support the OAIC’s work, please contact oaic@extension.wisc.edu.


Created with an image by Raphael Nogueira - "Time for Tulips"