The President’s Council on Disability stayed busy with projects over the summer and will continue this fall.
On June 22, 2018, the Board of Governors approved a governing Accessibility Policy. The policy is intended to serve as an overarching policy statement, upon which operational policies are based. The university will continue to develop policies and procedures designed to eliminate barriers to access and to provide equal and inclusive access for all members of the university community.
Web Accessibility Subcommittee
The Web Accessibility Subcommittee met several times over the summer to discuss plans for improving university websites. The committee proposed priority recommendations for FY19:
- Increased accessibility training for web editors of university departmental websites
- Accessibility scanning and quality assurance for public websites, beginning with critical webpages
These recommendations were approved and implementation planning is ongoing this fall.
Blackboard Ally Subcommittee
The Blackboard Ally Subcommittee began review of an exciting new software product offered by Blackboard in the fall of 2017. This Blackboard software supplement, called Blackboard Ally, aims to increase accessibility of course content and is a resource to faculty members who use Blackboard. Specifically, Ally generates alternative formats, provides instructor feedback on how to improve accessibility of course content, and provides the university with the ability to run institutional reports on accessibility in course materials. Vetting the software was a big undertaking and included input from a wide range of constituents including faculty, accessibility trainers and experts, and information technology administers. The Council’s recommendation to procure Blackboard Ally is supported by Academic Affairs, the President, and Administrative Counsel. Implementing Ally will also be a big job and is currently in the early planning stages. Stay tuned for additional news related to planning for Blackboard Ally!
As students returned to campus for classes this fall, several improvements to accessibility could be seen from communication about resources, to parking, to accessibility in buildings. The improvements include:
- Inclusion of information about areas of refuge and shelter information in all course syllabi.
- Parking lot maintenance which included the addition of 37 accessible parking spaces in the following parking lots: 4, 18, 19, 27, 39, 40, 42, and accessible spaces within the newly constructed lot 45.
- The Hill Hall renovation improved accessibility throughout the entire facility including the entrances.
- Automatic bathroom door openers were installed at Plaster Student Union for the second-floor men’s and women’s restrooms.
- The NPHC (National Pan-Hellenic Council) Plots project, which is currently underway, will include an accessible ramp.
- While all projects are designed to meet accessibility standards, below is a list of significant renovations that were completed this summer beyond those stated above:
- Magers Health and Wellness Center
- Mechanical Engineering Renovation at Plaster Center
- Locker Room Addition at Greenwood Laboratory School
- Renovation of Woods House
- Hass-Darr Hall on the West Plains Campus (currently underway)