Since the middle of October of 2017, with the hiring of the campus accessibility specialist (CAS) there has been a three pronged approach to accessibility at UIS: faculty education, student workers making faculty files accessible, and outreach to local institutions.

Faculty education

In the period between October 15, 2017 and the end of the fiscal year 2017/1018, the Campus Accessibility Specialist met with various groups on campus. These meetings included:

  • Dean’s councils in 4 colleges and the library (51 people)
  • 16 full department meetings (121 people)
  • 4 FDO workshops (42 people)
  • Individual meetings (42 people)

The Dean’s councils and department meetings mostly focused on general accessibility topics and the benefits of making materials accessible. The workshops and individual meetings focused on meeting accessibility needs in specific software, or specific faculty or staff needs.

Dr. Sheryl Reminger (Department Chair Psychology) invited the Campus Accessibility Specialist to a department meeting in the Fall 2017. Shortly thereafter she asked him back to offer some training for the department in making Word files accessible. By late Spring 2018, several faculty in the department had already edited their Word and PowerPoint files themselves, and the majority of the assistance still needed involved the more time consuming PDFs and videos.


In the fiscal year 2017/18 the Campus Accessibility Specialist also worked or collaborated with external groups.

  • Microsoft Accessibility Team, working with Microsoft engineers on to meet accessibility needs
  • Digital Accessibility for Educators Workshop, June 20-22, 2018. Trained people on how to meet accessibility needs in Word, PowerPoint, Adobe PDF and videos. (17 people)
  • Kaskaskia College, 5 virtual meetings and 2 in person training by UIS faculty and COLRS staff to help KC who was under an Office of Civil Rights investigation for inaccessibility. (100 people)
  • Martin, V.S., Gribbins, M., Craig T., Boles, E., and Freml, J. (May 2018) Accessibility in the Trenches. Pre-conference workshop at the Faculty Summer Institute, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL.
  • Martin, V.S. (2018 March) Accessibility: Laws, training, and considerations. Presentation at CIC-SHRM Springfield, IL
  • Boles, E. & Martin, V.S. (2018 February) Moving forward together: Faculty development strategies for accessibility and universal design for learning. Presentation at the forty-third annual ICCHE Learning to Change Conference, Chicago, IL.

Through Faculty Education and Outreach, the Campus Accessibility Specialist has met with 556 people in fiscal year 2017/18. This number does count known duplications. For instance, a department chair may also have been in attendance at a dean’s cabinet, their department meeting, or a Faculty Development Office workshop.

Brytton Bjorngaard (Visual Arts) makes her own Word and PowerPoint files accessible, and thinks about how to take this even further with campus committee level PDF forms. Brytton also teaches her students about accessibility within web design. She presented on accessibility and PowerPoints to help faculty at Kaskaskia College in Spring 2018.

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. 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 2017/18 the first and second class have each been taught once. The two classes had 24 students, one of whom was a UIS faculty member.

Dr. Cindy Wilson (Department Chair Teacher Education) Preparing future teachers includes teaching them to differentiate instruction based on their students’ needs, so when accessibility came to the forefront as an issue a few years ago, faculty in the Department of Teacher Education took notice. They started working with COLRS personnel to revise course materials, beginning with syllabi and progressing to other documents and presentations. While it has not always been easy, the hiring of the CAS and student workers has been a tremendous boon to the process. During 2018, the TEP graduate assistant worked closely with the CAS to develop department specific guides and templates, and to remediate accessibility issues in faculty submitted documents. In June, the chair of the Department, Dr. Cindy Wilson, invited the CAS to present to 15 full and part-time faculty at the annual TEP Faculty Retreat. This included workshop time so that the CAS could target specific questions and issues as faculty worked to revise course materials.

Student workers

In February 2018, the Provost’s office set aside money to fund four student workers - one per college - to work on remediating faculty files. Interviews began at the end of February and early March and students began work in mid to late March. In the middle of March, the four college deans were contacted to supply prioritized lists of classes needing accessibility remediation. The first list came in on March 22 and the Campus Accessibility Specialist began contacting faculty on the list that day. By March 26, the first faculty member had supplied all her files and work began on remediating them. All of the files for that class were completed and returned to the faculty member on March 28. Between March 26 and May 10, the four student workers remediated all the files for 42 complete classes. As the chart below highlights, overall we received 1,023 files, and were able to complete work on 919 of them. Of the four main file types nearly 50% were Word files, nearly 25% were PDF files, about 10% were PPT files, and around 5% were videos.

This data suggests that 50% of faculty files are in the Word format which is relatively easy, in most cases, to remediate. PowerPoint, too, is relatively easy to fix at the faculty member level. After the student workers are able to help faculty get caught up on accessibility work, at least 60% of the work is within the scope of the faculty fixing. PDFs are more problematic and videos do require more time, which may require continuing student worker support for those file types.

Currently we are attempting to come up with a metric for evaluating the cost of the students per page of material worked on. From the standpoint of the videos, it typically takes the students 3 times the final run time of a video to complete captioning. This means a 20 minute video takes 1 hour to caption. At this rate, it costs 43.75 cents per minute for the students to caption a video. Because the least costly captioning company charges $1.00 per minute, student workers are the cheapest alternative for UIS, and the students are learning a marketable skill.

Dr. Denise Bockmier-Sommers (Human Services/Social Service Administration) was the first professor to have her class materials remediated by the student workers. Dr Bockmier-Sommers, along with Human Services Online Coordinator John Snyder and HMS Graduate Assistant Girish Villa, effectively collaborated with the Campus Accessibility Specialist and the COLRS student workers in making teaching materials accessible.

Fall 2017

Beginning with the first meetings the Campus Accessibility Specialist held with departments in November, there were various levels of reaction to the accessibility initiative. Some departments reached out for training on Word or PDF in November. Other departments or individual faculty were more reluctant to accept the legal need or their role in making materials accessible. There were calls for extra help in making materials accessible. Some of the departments, like Computer Science, English, History, and TEP, did assign graduate student workers to help make materials accessible.

Spring 2018

In February, the Campus Accessibility Policy was finalized, and was passed by the Chancellor’s cabinet. This policy is an important safeguard in the event of a federal investigation, and points to the state and federal laws we are required to follow as the guidelines. On February 14, there was a faculty meeting in which accessibility was raised as one of the three primary concerns of the faculty. Shortly thereafter, money was set aside for hiring the student workers. With the department meetings, Faculty Development Office workshops, meetings with individual faculty, and the hiring of the student workers, the mood began to change. Some of the faculty who had been reluctant or outspoken have become much more accepting of accessibility and have even made many of their Word or PowerPoint files accessible.

SummeR 2018

For the 3-day workshop in June, we attempted to have a large supply of Word and PowerPoint files for participants to rectify. We contacted several faculty members in the Psychology department as they had been one of the earliest departments to request assistance. The faculty we contacted mentioned that they didn’t have any Word or PowerPoint files as they had fixed many of their files already, but had videos which needed captioning which we added to the queue.

Dr. Betsy Goulet (Public Administration) in her Child Advocacy Studies (CAST) classes posts several short videos each week to make the connections between current events and course content. Part of her process of posting videos is captioning each video through the interface within Blackboard, which only adds a little time to the overall process, but greatly helps students.


As we enter fiscal year 2018/19, we are seeing a greater level of acceptance of the need to make instructional materials accessible. In some pockets, we are beginning to see many of the easier-to-remediate files- Word and PowerPoint - made accessible. It is at this point, as we look forward, we see the work expanding outside of the academic departments.

Human ResourceS

Some of the files we received for the workshop were from the Office of Human Resources as they are interested in making their forms and paperwork more accessible. This will be an area for more work next fiscal year.


The library has also made a decision to make their online course reserves accessible. The library scans anywhere from 300 to 600 items for e-reserve each semester. Currently, they are scanned as PDFs, but not made accessible, which means they are just pictures of book or article pages. The library is going to have Library Specialist Pamela Scott, a grad student, and two undergrads trained on remediating PDFs. While this will increase the time of adding course reserves, it will improve the accessibility of course materials.

Office accessibility

There is also interest by Monica Kroft in the Provost's Office in thinking about office procedures and making them more accessible. Things like colors of handouts and forms, as well as attachments to emails. At this point it is difficult to say what these procedures will be until we meet more with Ms. Kroft.


There has also been greater interest in making the website more accessible. There has been much previous work moving towards this, and in the next year we hope to use an accessible html editor for the website. The library has also been working on their website to fix any accessibility issues.

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