Feedback Requested: Proposed University of California Web Accessibility Policy

Two weeks ago, the University of California released a web accessibility policy that provides broad guidelines, which each institution will implement. In the course on hybrid course design, Rosemary Capps drew our attention to a few features of the policy that are worth considering:

  • Web Standard. University of California is committing itself to the AA level of WCAG. The WCAB Guidelines provide detailed explanations and examples of this standard.
  • Design Process. The guidelines support universal design, which involves making every online element accessible through multiple modes.
  • Training. Right now, UC Davis offers the course on hybrid course design to graduate students and a similar workshop for faculty each year, but this training does not reach very many people at a time. We may need to rethink how we train our faculty and graduate students to create accessible online materials. Rosemary pointed out that Penn State has a particularly nice accessibility website to assist their faculty and campus community.
  • Compliance Monitoring. Monitoring is a difficult task to balance with academic freedom, but some kind of system will need to be in place to ensure that all of our students can access all online materials.

The University of California is currently seeking faculty feedback on these guidelines. The Request for Comment period closes July 22, 2013, so be sure to have a look at the proposed policy and submit your feedback to soon!

One we have determined what the accessibility policy is, we need to consider who will provide support for our faculty as they work to make online materials accessible; some of the requirements, like creating captions for every video, are quite time consuming and expensive. Academic Technology Services is requesting funding for more support staff, but to make all UC Davis websites and online materials accessible, it will need to be a team effort. One option is to hire students to create captions or ask students to caption one or two minutes of video as part of their course participation; we might also foster collaborative crowdsourcing-type activities across the campus community.

For such collaboration to be possible, we need faculty involvement, so I hope you’ll take some time to review the proposed policy and offer your feedback!

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