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3 updates on how tech and access help all

By Cory Phare

July 12, 2018

Woman's hand holding in class remote next to laptopAccess to a high-quality, transformative education is right at the heart of Metropolitan State University of Denver’s mission.

And as the Center for Faculty Excellence continues to champion this process by integrating instructional design into its approach, the result is one that benefits the entire University far beyond needing to comply with federal regulations.

“Changing our institutional habits so accessibility is ‘baked in’ is going to take effort, but it also brings a lot of side benefits,” said Jeff Loats, Ph.D., professor of physics and director of the CFE. “For example, accessibility standards and Universal Design for Learning end up benefiting all students, not just those officially diagnosed with a disability.”

As such, here are three tidbits of improvements to benefit all students.

  • The Technology Accessibility Initiative Committee has met regularly for several years, steadily working to understand the wide variety of accessibility issues relating to all online activities, tools and materials used at MSU Denver.

    “This committee has grappled with the elevated frequency of accessibility-related legal action throughout higher education,” said Alex McDaniel, senior instructional designer and chair of the committee. “It is clear to us that MSU Denver isn’t in a position where we can let accessibility problems sit and wait to be pointed out to us.”

    The committee is drafting a scenario-based document to help articulate online accessibility issues at MSU Denver. More information to come this fall; for questions or to get involved, please email McDaniel.
  • Gabriel Christie has officially come onboard with the CFE as an instructional accessibility manager, a new role dedicated to working with faculty on making classroom material accessible and guiding related University policy.

    Previously an adaptive-technology coordinator with the University of Northern Colorado, he pointed out common access-related challenges inherent with PDFs, PowerPoint presentations and videos lacking captions.

    “Those who have invisible disabilities can often be left out of the accessibility conversation,” Christie said. “And though we’ve got faculty members doing a great job of taking access into consideration, it never hurts to come in and review, as standards and guidelines often change.”

    Christie is developing ongoing programming and is available for one-on-one consultation; please email him for more information

  • Marketing and Communication, the Access Center and the CFE are teaming up to offer monthly workshops on document accessibility. If you need help assessing, creating or converting accessible documents, this is where you can get expert help. The first workshop will launch in early August; head over to the CFE events calendar to sign up.

Keep an eye on the Early Bird for regular features from the CFE, highlighting resources, workshops and improvements the Center is making to help faculty members continue enhancing their instructional excellence.

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