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Introducing: OHIO-DAN Digital Accessibility Champions

The OHIO Digital Accessibility Network (OHIO-DAN) started in 2019 with the ambitious goal of driving awareness within the Ohio University community to the complex challenges of inaccessible websites, web applications, and documents. This community of nearly 250 volunteer participants has grown together through monthly events, conversations, self-guided learning and more. This year the OHIO-DAN program moved into a new level of commitment and empowerment through the pilot of the Digital Accessibility Champions program.

The Document Accessibility Champions Cohort

There are many areas of digital accessibility to focus on, but we decided to launch the champions program with a concentration on document accessibility. With the help of grant funding through the Ohio Broadband Digital Equity Program, the digital accessibility team created the first Digital Accessibility Champions program for Document Accessibility. Twenty-one members of the OHIO DAN were accepted into the program. The cohort spent the next two months completing a Document Accessibility course through the University of Utah’s WebAIM program. We also met once a week to go over concepts from the course and dive deeper into the material.  

Once the members finished the course, we provided them with a software tool that simplifies the process of converting a simple and accessible Word document to a highly accessible PDF. The grant money also provided four members of the cohort, who represented key departments on campus, a stipend to help pay for the remediation of important and complex PDFs on their websites.

We Chose Document Accessibility Because:

  1. Most people feel comfortable with a baseline understanding of Microsoft documents.
  2. The concepts taught in the course help us dive deeper into understanding each tool, demonstrating how to be more efficient and effective in our everyday work.
  3. While document accessibility differs somewhat from web accessibility, the key concepts are the same, so it is a great way to understand the basics of digital accessibility without being overwhelmed with technical concepts.
  4. By addressing documents on the website and converting them to webpages, removing them, or having them remediated, we can help support everyone who visits, including people with disabilities. Learning to create accessible documents can help improve accessibility.

In addition to the software and stipend, everyone who finished the program received a digital badge they can add to their email signatures, social media accounts, and resumes signifying they are OHIO Document Accessibility Champions. Furthermore, the cohort members can now help others in their departments with document accessibility through training and mentoring. This distinction is also a great highlight for participants to add to their annual performance evaluations.

Document Accessibility – Not Remediation

Note that this program is about document accessibility as opposed to document remediation. Document remediation is about fixing PDF documents that were not created with accessibility in mind and this is a highly technical and complicated service. Repairing inaccessible PDF documents almost always requires a qualified document remediation specialist. By focusing the champions program on document accessibility, the need for expensive document remediation can be significantly reduced.

What is Next?

Given the success of this project, the Digital Accessibility Team is working on creating a new Document Accessibility course in Canvas to expand the Document Accessibility Champions program. Once completed, we will offer this opportunity to more members of the OHIO DAN community. We will then begin working on a similar program for Web Content Accessibility Champions and an Accessible IT Purchasing Champions program.

2024 Document Accessibility Champions Cohort 1

We want to acknowledge the members of the very first cohort of document accessibility champions. By persevering through this program and graciously and honestly sharing your experiences, you helped pave the way for future cohorts. Thank you all for all you do to improve the digital experience for everyone with and without disabilities.

  • Haley Billett: IT Accessibility Analyst I, OIT
  • Annie Cadmus: Healthy OHIO Associate Director, Wellworks
  • Lisa Dael: Director, Center for Technology and Online Programs, College of Education
  • Michelle Davidson: Administrative Specialist, College of Health Sciences and Professions
  • Scott Dills: Campus Engagement Specialist I, Campus Engagement, OIT
  • Brianne Dowler: Assistant Director for Student Success and Communications: Center for International Studies
  • Shari Gillispie: Manager, Facilities Work Center
  • Jeremy Grahame: Technology and Knowledge Manager, Ohio Business Service Center
  • Michael Green: Learning and Development Administrator, University Human Resources
  • Michelle Hahn: Metadata Librarian, Library
  • Crystal Hill: Associate Dean for Accessibility and ADA/504 Coordinator, University Accessibility
  • Steven Hollis: Art Director, University Communications and Marketing
  • Todd Jacops: Web Manager/Graphic Designer, College of Fine Arts
  • Jenny Jordan: Benefits Manager, University Human Resources
  • Angelique McCown: Transfer Credit and Articulation Analyst, Enrollment Initiatives
  • Jody Monk: Instructional Designer, Instructional Innovation
  • Shelli Minton: Web CMS Specialist and Training Supervisor, University Communications and Marketing
  • Becky Munhall: Associate Professor of Instruction, Communication Sciences & Disorders
  • Carrie Preston: Head of Web Services, Library
  • Kirin Pugh: Student Services Administrator, Graduate College
  • Matt Sheets: Information Security Analyst III, Security and Risk, OIT