September 2019 WAPL Transcript
Nate Evans: Hey everybody. Nate Evans, Senior Manager, of the Digital Experience Team back from a hiatus. This was web accessibility policy liaison meeting number 45, but that's a mouthful. Thanks for everybody who attended. We got an update from the MSU libraries who hosted us thanks to Heidi and everybody over there. They talked a little bit about their digital accessibility program. We also got some updates from the RCPD, thanks to Leslie and Virginia March for joining us.
And then we talked to the year three digital accessibility self reviews. We're still on deadline to get you that feedback on September 30th, 2019 so look for those in your inbox soon. And yeah, if you miss the meeting, there are a few other updates so I encourage you to take a listen. Thanks for joining.
Good morning. I guess it's afternoon now. How's everybody doing? Interesting Friday. Interesting Friday. Heidi and I, earlier we were talking, we thought, there's a possibility, maybe it's two of us that show up to this meeting. So I'm incredibly grateful that you guys are here today. It's a definitely an interesting day, but thanks for taking the trip over. Grateful everybody's safe on our walk over. We notice people were going back into admin, so that's a very good sign.
Welcome to meeting number 45 of our web accessibility policy liaisons. We've got a packed agenda today, so I'm really glad for everybody's that's here. And I'll mention too, just kind of as we get started for this semester, we are recording all of these and we push those as podcasts to Apple Podcast or you can get them off of our website as well at webaccess.msu.edu. So, if you ever do miss a meeting or if you have folks that you want to share these recordings with, we're going to be recording these every session so you have access to them throughout the year as well as past meetings from the last year as well.
So, in terms of our agenda today, we're going to talk a little bit about, or we're going to give an opportunity for Heidi to talk about the MSU libraries digital accessibility program, since we're hosted here in the library today. We have some updates from Leslie at the RCPD as well as Ginger. I'm glad you're with us here today. We'll talk a little bit about the year through three self review. We have some updates on that. Thanks to everybody who's submitted those so far and we've got some great updates to share. I've been working away on those. We'll talk a little bit about the web accessibility working group. We've had some conversations about restarting that group and want to talk a little bit about that and give an update. We also want to talk about, this is not brand new, but some of the updates to our team and transitioning from our previous name to our new name, so we'll give you a little bit overview and context around that.
We want to gather interest, if you have interest in and utilizing student interns for some of your production work or accessibility remediation work, especially as it's related to web development or course development. And then the last thing we want to talk about is a discussion briefly on academic publishers. You may have recently heard some of the digital first type rhetoric that Pearson's using as well as NFP's recent follow up to that. So we're going to talk a little bit about that as well. Sound good? All right. Okay. With that, I'll hand it over to Heidi.
Heidi: So, use both? Okay, so we have two mikes here, which makes me feel really... Okay, well there's this one too, so. Well, welcome to the libraries everyone. My name is Heidi Schroeder. I'm the Accessibility Coordinator here using the two microphones. WaPo was just here in January, so there aren't too many changes here in the libraries with our digital accessibility programs since then. But I thought I would mention two things that could be of interest to people.
The first is our inner library loan department has started a test with ABBYY FineReader, to add automated OCR to our borrowing documents. So in our library, loan documents are things that we borrow from other institutions because we don't subscribe to everything. And we recently learned that there was a service that other big 10 libraries were using through ABBYY FineReader to provide automated OCR to these documents, which is not only a great thing for accessibility but usability more broadly, because now users will be able to search their inner library loan documents for keywords and stuff like that. So that's something that's really exciting that we've been implementing.
We also, in the big 10 library eResource accessibility group, which the Michigan State University libraries really spearheads. A really exciting announcement there is that we are expanding to another library consortium. So we have the Association of South East Research Libraries, or ASERL, joining our efforts. So this means we'll be doing more evaluations of even more library eResources and probably doing some additional library eResource accessibility work. So, this is great because it's now not just the big 10 but it's other huge research libraries in the Southeastern region of the United States. So, that's really exciting. Are there any questions for me or broader questions about libraries accessibility efforts here?
Kate: Hi. [crosstalk 00:06:08] Oh, okay.
Heidi: And I'll repeat it for-
Kate: Okay, thanks. I was like, this isn't... So I know that Regina Gong recently joined the libraries and she's an OER librarian from LCC. I'm curious, I know I'm putting you on the spot here, but how is she kind of working with the efforts that you've already started in accessibility and what does that look like?
Heidi: Sure, that's a great question. I'll repeat it into the room mike, for those in the room. So the question was about the MSU libraries recent hire of Regina Gong as our OER or Open Educational Resources librarian and how accessibility efforts in OER are fitting in with the broader accessibility efforts here.
Regina and I have met and there are some great OER accessibility resources out there. There's an OER accessibility toolkit from University of British Columbia. So, Regina knows that accessibility is something that's really important, not just here at MSU and in the libraries, but in the OER movement more broadly. OER needs to be accessible. That's a big part of the mission. So, as she works with faculty to adapt OER to create their own accessibility. Checklist and procedures are going to be a big part of that, so we're in communication. There are some great resources already out there. Regina has only been here about a month, so efforts are still pretty new. She's starting by working to identify courses that are using OER already here at MSU and try to really promote those efforts and accessibility will be making sure those are accessible is going to be a first step of that too. Good question, Kate. Thanks. Any other questions?
All right, I'll hand it over to our RCPD.
Nate Evans: Perfect. Sure. Do you want me to navigate while you talk?
Leslie Johnson:I was just going to show a brief area, hang on, let me just [inaudible 00:08:20]
All right. I'm Leslie Johnson from RCPD and Ginger Martz well, she'll introduce herself and she can go over some of her stuff as well, but I just wanted to give a quick update. We just launched a brand new website which has been quite a project in the making, but it's finally here.
On our website, we have a lot more resources that are easier to find. So, on our website for deaf and hard of hearing have not been updated yet because there's been so many transitions happening within the university of how they're working with us now, that what we've started out with, we have to rewrite. It's a complete rewrite, so we're working on that now. But one of the things I wanted to share with you, because you're going to see this, is some of the procedures that Nate and James and I have worked out and Heidi and I work together very closely also. For students who are deaf and hard of hearing, they have become really acutely aware of the university's web accessibility policy. I think it's because of the fact that it's been out there a little while and what has happened too is students who are deaf and hard of hearing find that taking online courses or blended courses, because of that policy, they're finding it to be something that's really unique to them.
They like to learn through reading, essentially. If you can't hear something and you can't decipher what's being said, if you can read the material, you do really well with that. And then when you add something like where somebody has video and now text going along with that video, whether captions or a transcript or some kind of PowerPoint with texts running, the students find that very, very attractive. So what we're finding is a huge increase in deaf and hard of hearing students taking blended courses, online courses, and other such things. So, they pushed the rest of our course content, or our classes that we're not there yet, into a very interesting situation. We had some departments that were well aware that they have a large number of deaf and hard of hearing students among the population of students that we're working with. And they just started doing this web accessibility features a long time ago.
So their course content was already created, is available, and students found that very attractive. Now what we have is students going into completely different areas and taking classes. So, I wanted to share with you what their letters look like, and I want to share a little bit about the process of what's happening. So, when a student who is deaf or hard of hearing is going to need accommodations in their classroom that may impact what you do as far as the web access pieces or the course content pieces. They obviously have a needs assessment and make a determination about accommodations and they receive a letter. Then this is their letter, verified individualized services and accommodations letter. In their letter, which is what is very different from every other student's letter, is where you'll see alternative formats for students who are blind or visually impaired or have print related disabilities.
You'll also now see that for students who are deaf and hard of hearing. But for students who are deaf and hard of hearing, theirs is very unique, because it will say specifically that they need to access to caption or subtitled videos. So, the video has a foreign language feature to it and you can turn on subtitles to get the English piece. You may meet their needs in that way. We might not have to have a captioned version. But then Heidi has been very helpful with faculty and departments in identifying films or finding a way to grab a film that already has the captions, or has subtitles, or can we get a transcript for it. So you'll also see that they have transcript or text eligibility for anything that's audio.
So, recently I had a professor contact me because the student is taking a music class and he said to me, why in the world would a student who can't hear be taking a music class? Well, this student has residual hearing. They very much enjoy music. They just can't understand the lyrics or the words that are being said. So to have that text feature there, and that professor actually was ready, he said he knew it was coming, so he started working on some things. So, that was really exciting and I was able to educate him too on the fact that just because you are deaf or hard of hearing does not mean we don't enjoy music or you maybe are not playing a musical instrument. So, he learned quite a bit from that.
The other thing you'll see is the online and blended learning, so captioned or transcript eligible. So, that piece, it also directs them to the digital access team for digital accessibility, so that they can actually have someone to connect with to a professor if they have questions or concerns or just to look at their course.
So, how do we get this information out? Because yes, the student has their letter, but they're not thinking about what they need in spring. They may have signed up in spring, but they're focused right now on their fall courses. So what we've been trying to do is, I have been producing a list. I try and do it three months out. So in March, I started to produce, well actually... Yes, they signed up in March. It's summer session is the one that gives us short notice, because they don't sign up until mid March for their classes for summer. And then we only have a portion of March, April, and then May to get their classes... We only have two months to get their classes up and running if they're not already captioned.
So, what I do is I will send out a notification to Nate and his team, that these are those students that we have currently enrolled for online or blended classes. And how we recognize that is by the section numbers. That does not solve all the problems for other classes where our professors decide to put up some kind of content, to D2L, that's a movie, or a film, or audio file and they didn't think about the fact that Oh, there might be a deaf or hard of hearing student in my course that needs to access this material.
So anyways, so what we do is we try to make that contact early. I run a list of these students, send it to Nate and his team. They go ahead and start making contact with the various departments and professors regarding the fact that they do have a student in the course who is going to need this access.
Now, they also at the same time look at all the details of the class because I did get a contact from the math department for one of my students who said, why would a blind student be taking an online math class? And I said, I'm sorry, I do need to speak with Angela Sebald. We were very confused. They thought that if they had alternative format, it meant that there were blind or visually impaired. They didn't understand that someone who was deaf needed another format because it was all audio. Everything that was happening in that course was audio and the student couldn't access it. So we clarified that and got that going.
So, when Nate's team is making contact with professors, they may be looking at other things in there. They may identify that there's a need for captions, or transcript, or something like that for the particular course. But at the same time James had said, we also will let them know if there are other things we find. We ask them to immediately take care of these pieces.
What we're trying now, what we're working on now, is I try to work with the registrar's office because we have a code in our system where we can actually, I'm given an AU or an RC code. AU means there's auditory impacts. RC means they require caption. And so we have some coding that we can do in our system.
I'm trying to work with the registrar's office now to utilize that code to kind of give departments a heads up, especially for our freshman class. Once students get into their majors, departments know about that. As a matter of fact, I just had contact from a professor recently who said to me, Oh, I know so and so. I'm all set. I have all six courses ready and I'm on the next section now, we're all good to go, and the student had already told me too, oh this is so and so, he's all set, he knows me. And so he's just moving forward in his major just like anyone else would. But it's the freshman and the sophomores before they've decided their major that sometimes we get some difficulty. I think they may have made a decision but they're not yet in that department with those courses.
And so those are the ones that give us a little bit more of a challenge. So I've been asking the registrar's office if they would include this code. We already use it for financial aid to look at opportunities for scholarships for people who have hearing loss, why can't we use that to give a heads up to departments and or professors where if they saw that code they would know that they might need to follow up if they haven't already received this letter or received contact from things or one of the digital accessibility team members. So I just wanted to give you kind of an idea of what's happening. We're working with the registrar, we're hoping to have this situated before spring semester. There's been a little resistance, but I think we'll get it worked out, and I think it's just because it's new.
So any questions that you have regarding these pieces? Yes.
Speaker 5: So will that be course wide so that I can [inaudible 00:17:55], or?
Leslie Johnson: That's where we're trying to make a decision, because right, legally we can't do it to the student. We're trying to figure out how instead, we can give them some kind of notification without outing the student. You're absolutely right, and that's why I don't give the names of students. Usually Nate and his team uses my name to say, you have a student coming into your course and the reason they do that is because the student has the right to approach the professor themselves with their letter and talk independently and privately with that professor without everybody in the world knowing, and we need to be moving forward in our web accessibility policy and our content, making sure we're covered. So, yeah. That's why we have this little challenge right now, we're trying to figure out how to do it without outings students.
Speaker 6: I have a question.
Leslie Johnson: Yes.
Speaker 6: In general, what's the timeline or plan to having the website be accessible? Right now it is not. And for a new website, What was the current situation that estimated this current plan for-
Leslie Johnson: Website accessible? What do you mean?
Speaker 5: I was just, something-
Leslie Johnson: It's not?
Speaker 5: Is it not known or?
Leslie Johnson: I guess we can chat. I don't know if it's known, so.
Speaker 5: Okay.
Leslie Johnson: What was happening with that?
Speaker 5: You don't get focusability on a lot of things, especially with those screen locks that we can't have normally, type of keystrokes having general access-
Leslie Johnson: Okay, that's good to know. Thank you. Any other questions? Yes.
Annette Burge: Would the code be for in class as well as online or-
Leslie Johnson: Yeah, that's what we're doing right now. What I use is, the in class part is a little bit more challenging because there is no coding, there's no notification. I mean, with the exception of notifying your professor, we all have the students. I now take my students letters out for a year and I ask them to start this process over the breaks to make contact with each and every one of their professors. With our new freshman, that doesn't always happen because we get that, sometimes, at the last minute, an hour and so there isn't the time, but we're trying to be more proactive with these courses. I think the reality is we need to start moving forward even more with the web accessibility-
Annette Burge: I just had a professor in the department who has a hearing VISA and had no clue and is scrambling now, and we were just talking yesterday about, it would be nice if you got some fore warning.
Leslie Johnson: Right, exactly. And so you're absolutely right and I'm seeing students identifying later and later, and or, we do have some students sudden onset deafness. It happens, and I usually have at least four a semester with a sudden onset deafness, and it just is what it is, It'll be in the middle of their coursework and suddenly we need to respond. So, yeah.
Other questions? You did, yikes. It can happen. Viruses, other things can happen. Yeah.
No? Okay. Thank you. Did I miss anything Nate? Nope, Okay.
James Bender: There we go.
Okay, I'm James Bender. I'm going to be talking about the three year review. I have a couple items. So, the first one we want to thank everyone who submitted. So year three, we're going into year four now, and we've done some analytics where we looked at departments that never submitted, some that maybe skipped a year and this year we want to thank you. You continue in this fight. I'm looking to have Kate, Kate is on it, right? You guys have never missed it. You guys are talking, doing my presentation, so I had to look at Kate. You guys have never missed a time, right?
Quiet down Jeremy. So we are on task, we are on track, our team is on track. So we use a committee to review this and our date is to get back by the 30th, so we're going to be on track to do that. Nate was always... I said Nate, I've got to use my military format to make sure we stay on task. And he's like, okay Bender, do whatever you need to do. And so, we're getting them out, we're cranking out a certain amount of time and I think we have a good, what we call a battle rhythm. We have a good rhythm for getting these done, so we can meet that objective of being ready by the 30th of September and we're using last year's rube Rick, so it's no changes. And so hopefully, if you haven't submitted, still time, right? We can still get you in there.
The bottom line is we want to help you move forward with accessibility, okay? And so, some of the things that we observed, and I'll give you a few minutes to look at this, if your area is student focused, thank you. Cause those are the areas that are making things happen. And we have about half of them are just dealing with websites and then the other half of our MAU's, they have students. And so that's some of the things that we've noticed.
If there's an interest in investing in staff and support, again, we have partners out here who have their own student teams and so there's a variation of support and those are the things that we notice.
Having methods to track, that's one of the things for me personally, if you have a method of tracking how you are measuring your success and what you're doing, it makes it very easy for us as a committee. And I'll give some examples of that. And if anybody in audience, I'm going to ask that, if you're using something method, I don't want to point out to people who ask like, Oh yeah, these people are doing it right and these people are not. I'm going to ask for volunteers to share the methods that they use, okay? So if you're using the CAB/CAR process, anybody heard of the CAB/CAR process? Kind of know what that is? Yes, no?
Do you hear me? Okay. So yeah, modified version of it. Right. Okay. So that's basically a statistic, it's a spreadsheet that we ask that people prioritize how they're doing things with their courses, right? And so if you say, Hey, we're using this process and you kind of outline your own. To us, it makes it easy for the committee and we can say, yep, look, they're doing it, they're measuring, they're showing, they started with a hundred courses and they have 50 of them remediated. It's a no brainer for us and it just helps a lot. So I'm going to ask for that at the end of my presentation if you don't mind sharing what you do, okay?
The other thing that we've noticed is there's some folks in departments that are bringing on new staff members and I noticed that a couple of new faces in here, and I don't know everyone, so those new faces are smiling. I'm looking over at them now. Thank you for those departments that showing that administration and leadership is taking this serious. So again, that's another thing, when we talk about culture, we use five measurable items that we look at and so, somebody is bringing us some liaisons, full time support, and some staff, or students, that shows to us that culturally they're trying to help because it takes personnel to do that, okay?
And some of the things that we've noticed, factors that are causing individuals not to do as well and leaving us with a lot of questions is... I know some of this stuff they can't help, they have some kind of turnover in their programs. So from one year to the next a liaison is there, the next thing you know they don't have anybody do anything. So that's kind of like, who's doing this? A new person just gets put into the position and we can tell by their evaluation of what they're doing. It's like maybe they don't have enough information, they're too new to the position. Even if that happens, we don't want you not to submit. We want you to still try to submit and then we're going to reach out to you and let you know, here's what we recommend you do. So, that's some of the things that we've noticed that having new things.
And then the last thing is including manual inspections. So including manual inspections, that's just not enough. Some folks will run a some type of a manual process, but it still needs human intervention to go in and fix it. And I'm thinking some of the web tools that are out there. Jim could speak more to this and he's very passionate about it, but of course he's not here today, so he had to take some time off. But, when you're talking about the web and you run into these tools, you know we need a little bit more, some human interaction, as opposed to just manually doing those tools.
Nate, can you work the floor for me for any questions about this. First of all, this is year three, how many of you are actually people that submit or a part of submitting? Raise your hands high. Okay, so at least 50% of the room. Yeah, so, that helps. That helps a lot.
Would anybody mind sharing their methodologies of how they record or document what they do, whether web or courses and how they measure? And I'm looking over at Jeremy cause you said yes, you use some modified CAB/CAR, so we'll get you started. You can help get us started on that.
Jeremy Van Hof: So it's an always evolving process, but we run the D2L inventory thing, transpose that into a modified form of the CAR document.
James Bender: Mic. Can you tell who you are and what department you're from?
Jeremy Van Hof: Yeah, Jeremy Van Hof from the Broad Business College.
James Bender: Okay, thank you.
Jeremy Van Hof: And we have a team of students overseen by Sarah here and me, who have been doing backwards facing remediation work. And we, like I said, we run... When we identify a priority course based on our own internal metrics, we run it through the D2L inventory tool to identify all the documents in the course, input that into a modified version of a CAR document and the students then just go through and check the accessibility of each of those documents. That's the basic process.
We're constantly changing what that actual modified form of the CAR document is and then on the back end it's a matter of tracking what courses we've hit, when we hit them, when we need to re-audit them, how we reprioritize every semester based on the new RO data that comes out, to stay in front of this. So this year primarily, we're trying to move away from doing too much backwards facing remediation and more towards more of an auditing and consulting role with the faculty because that's going to be more sustainable long term.
James Bender: Thank you. Thank you, for sharing that with us. Anyone else? How about someone from the web? I know we have some web folks in here who do something, they do some recording. I'm just giving a little eye contact to some individuals, but it's okay.
Annette Burge: Answer-
James Bender: That's okay.
Annette Burge: I make it up as I go along. I'm Annette Burge from RHS. We have so many diverse properties. We have retail, we have commercial, we have golf courses, we have Breslin Center, we have the Lavonne system, and every site is way different and pretty much... Over the summer I had a lot of student help and they got introduced to accessibility reviews very abruptly because I needed their help. They did a great job with it. Some of them didn't like it very much and have decided they don't want to be accessibility specialists when they grow up.
But I'm a one person accessibility team basically. So I use whatever resources I have at hand.
James Bender: Thank you for sharing that's excellent. Anyone else? Okay, I won't put anybody else on the spot but thank you for that. I appreciate it. So what I've been doing, I'm moving into my next area unless we have any more questions about the third year plans. Anyone else have any questions? No?
So we have this web accessibility working group. This is something they had several years ago before I started on the team and it kind of dissolved a little bit and now we're trying to bring it back but modified, we're looking at a hybrid approach to using this committee. And so, one of the things we did was we had a meeting, a couple of different meetings, volunteers to see who was interested in how can you help and then we did two meetings and then the third time we thought about having another meeting but we didn't have enough for an agenda to keep moving on.
So I said, well you know what, let's make a little change in the format. We put it on Teams. Anybody here not familiar with Teams or how many people use teams? I always like to get the majority. So, most of you use teams. So what I did was, I created a Teams for web liaisons. So, some of you, if you check in your Teams, you might be enrolled in there. If you're not, let me know because I just took everybody off the web access site. If you were listed as a liaison, I added you to the Team, and then from there we're going to put a working group channel. So I don't want to use things that you may not be familiar with. You guys know what I mean when I say the Team and the channels? Yeah? Thank you, nonverbal will help me.
So for the recording, they're shaking their heads. Yes, they know what the channel was about. So what I'm going to do with that is when we roll out something, we're going to try to get some feedback that way, and then maybe we'll do quarterly, we'll do a meeting and a face to face meeting, and I know a couple of individuals have, Jim put something out, a tutorial, and we have some individuals that gave them some feedback on that and that helps.
So whenever we ask for feedback, it's going to be very helpful as we move forward with our operation and the things that we're trying to do. So, that's what we're going to do with that. We were kind of evolving it into a Team's approach, so that we can do what we call asynchronous activities and then we can do some synchronized activities later down the road where we can do some meetings. Our goal is not to waste folks time and just keep talking about the same things over and over and over in the meetings, but to move forward with that.
Speaker 10: How do I get involved?
James Bender: How do you get involved?
Speaker 10: I'm interested.
James Bender: Send James Bender an email or Jim White. So, I'm chairing the committee and Jim is helping me with the committee, so thank you. Any other questions? All right, thank you.
Nate Evans: All right, so we realized when we were putting the agenda together for this meeting that we stopped for the summer doing a WAPL meetings, taking a little hiatus and that was right around the time that we had IT Next. And so some of you may have seen changes in our email signatures, but not a formal announcement about DigitalX. So we wanted to talk a little bit about that.
Our previous team name was Digital Content and Accessibility, you've known us as DCAT for many years. We've changed that title to the Digital Experience Team or DigitalX for short. Part of the reason in the shift for that is we've added part of the learning design team from the innovation hub into DigitalX and so with that our portfolio's changed a little bit about the types of services that we offer, and I'm going to talk a little bit about that in just a second. But one of the things we did early on when we integrated some of the learning designers into our team is we partnered with the innovation hub to do sort of like a redesign project about what is it we offer, what do we do, what are we good at, and how can we best serve campus based on the skill sets that we have.
And through that process they helped us come up with sort of this purpose statement for our team, and I'll read it just briefly here. DigitalX exists to help students, faculty, and staff create great digital experiences that are accessible for everyone. I'll read that one more time. Our team exists to help students, faculty and staff create great digital experiences that are accessible for everyone.
And we found as we work together as a team and started doing team inventories of the staff that are on our team and we're really wide variety of skillsets. It's cross functional in nature. We have video producers, we have learning designers, instructional designers, we have folks that are more on the web side. And then we have some folks that are on the accessibility side and we have folks that do video production. It's this wide variety of talent and so really at the end of the day though, it's not about necessarily a single video or a single website or a webpage, it's really about the digital experience, right? Making sure that that improves over time. And so that's why we've changed our name to DigitalX.
In terms of the services that we offer, we continue to help provide accessibility review before you buy something. So usually conversations start with, I want to buy this thing, how do I make sure it's accessible? And we partner with a central purchasing process to help review some of those things. We also do creative design and production, so this may be a faculty member, this may be a web developer, it could be any number of folks that are creating digital goods or services. But usually the conversation starts with, I want to build this thing, how do I do it? Or can I get some help doing that?
And then the last area, which is the area that we've been working in kind of throughout, since our team started, is accessibility review of digital things. So I want to make sure, I already have this thing, it's a course or it's whatever, I want to make sure it's accessible and we provide consultation to help build, help you all and to help the folks on your teams build confidence to know that is that thing accessible? Can we make sure we check it before we deploy it and make sure it's successful? Those kinds of things. In terms of what drives the prioritization on our team, everything we're trying to do aligns with university initiatives. So the work that's coming out of the hub, the digital learning strategy, those are projects that will prioritize MSU IT top 10 projects, those are priority projects for us, things like that. So that's what's kind of driving our prioritization.
In terms of some of the work that we've done over the summer and are going to be continuing to do within MSU IT under this new team name. One of the things we've been able to help influence and implement this year is required digital accessibility awareness training for all MSU IT staff this year. And that's a big change for us as a unit and something I'm really excited about. It's been needed for a while and so we've been working together to put together a few things to help our staff understand what is accessibility and why is it important.
Another thing that we've been doing is adding digital accessibility liaisons. So Jeff in the back, he's kind of been our main liaison for a number of years. And what we're hoping to do is add to that list. And I see Catherine, sorry to... If you don't mind waving Catherine Zane's back there. She represents the technical lead on systems like MediaSpace is one of them, Kaltura MediaSpace. There's a few others as well.
And so what we're thinking is, folks that are the the technical leads on these systems, they have the point of contact with many of the companies and the vendors that we're working with, that positions them really well to know when's our new contract coming up, who's the accessibility person within the company, how do we triage bugs if we find an accessibility bug, things like that. So we're hoping to appoint more and more accessibility liaisons based on the services and the software that are offered throughout MSU. IT. We're starting with AART and infrastructure because those are the teams that we're connected with through Brian Loomis, which is where our team reports through. So, that's kind of where we're starting. Hoping to expand from there.
We're continuing in full partnership with the office for civil rights here at Michigan State University, Aislinn Sapp. Our services like I mentioned before, are driven by major campus strategies that are going on, digital learning, the hub, the web access policy, things like that. And like I mentioned before, we're hoping to help offer end to end creation and support so we don't want you to feel like you come, and then get bounced maybe to another team, and then bounced to another team, and then we're hopeful that you can come to us and we can offer end to end support throughout the process as much as possible.
With that, that's kind of an overview on DigitalX. Any questions about our new team in terms of where we're at, where we're going? Cool. Ex. Yeah, one question.
Speaker 11: I'm wondering if you could say a little more about the training that they're getting. I have two developers who work for me directly, and I'm just wondering who provides the support the answer the real technical questions? They know from working with me that the applications that we produce have to be accessible.
Nate Evans: Sure.
Speaker 11: But, is there a tech support that can help on that front?
Nate Evans: It depends.
Speaker 11: And what is the training strategy to go beyond, you need to do this?
Nate Evans: Yeah, so we talked about that originally when we started building this. So year one for us really right now is about accessibility awareness. What is it, why does it matter to you specifically as an IT staff member and so it's pretty high level initially and then the long term plan is to develop it into the more technical kind of areas depending on the staff and we haven't really come up with the training on that for next year, what that will look like. But we want to tailor it more specifically to the type of staff that that need it not force someone into a training that may not be beneficial to them. In the meantime, what we're communicating is folks can reach out to our team if they have a more in depth technical questions and are also emphasizing if you have a major software service that doesn't have an accessibility representative within IT, that's a conversation we should have because we want to build that liaison network even more deeply if we can. So, all right.
Speaker 12: Asked me the other day they heard that LinkedIn is where they're going to be doing training now for things. Is that correct, or? Is that where accessibility trainings are going to be, or has there been a change in vendors for where we're being directed?
Nate Evans: That's a great question. So no change in vendor, we're still using DQ, so you can still sign up. I think we have some updates to do on the website in terms of the calendar year. But those are still available and we'll still be sticking with DQ. Probably what you heard is MSU IT has paid for a LinkedIn learning account for IT staff. Some of the accessibility, I think maybe just one of the videos that we use for the awareness training, comes from LinkedIn learning. So that's probably the connection, but there is no plan to jettison one and go to the other right now. Cool. Any other questions?
All right. With that I'll hand it over to Brooke.
Brooke Knapp: I see some new faces, so I'm going to reintroduce myself. I'm Brooke Knapp. I'm a Digital Accessibility Analyst for the DigitalX team. I'm going to talk about our student intern model. So basically in our office we have two different types of interns. We have central interns, which are those interns that were specifically with us on web accessibility, some of our VISA support, some of our training efforts. And then we have interns that we like to call departmental interns and they're on SLA's. So Service Learning Agreements.
Basically what that looks like is we set up a service learning agreement with a department or a unit to onboard students to help with the remediation efforts. So what our model looks like and I know the CAB/CAR process has kind of been talked about a little bit. Basically we asked that department when they come to us make a request that we have a prioritized list of, whether it be their courses that are most popular, has the most amount of attendance, or are completely online. We asked for that list and then we have the students put in those courses and we make a copy of that course and then we have our students work through the course in the CAB/CAR process, which is basically that inventory of what they have in their courses and you know some concerns of what might be accessibility concerns or need to be addressed and remediated.
Our process, or our model is that once that student is added to that course, they go and meet with a professor, kind of an overview of what they'll be doing in their course, kind of reaffirm that we're not here to change any of your materials, we're just here to remediate, to make it more accessible. And then once that relationship has been established, which is awesome, we found a lot of success with professors having students coming to them and explaining to them why they believe accessibility is important.
Professors are really responsive to that. But that relationship is really important because as they start those remediation efforts, then you know the professor themselves are invested in what's happening in their course. But the time spent that they have to do the effort is a little less. But those questions about alternative tags and making sure they know that they're the subject matter expertise and having them involved in that process.
And then once that has been completed, we have the student sit down with a professor and kind of teach them how to do these accessibility efforts. So as they develop their course or they add new material throughout the semesters, they know how to be adding those materials in an accessible way. So, that's kind of our process. We just want to ask, we have different departments across campus, if you have interest in it, I think it's fairly successful. But that's because I was an intern myself being in this position.
We have Gabrielle King, she's the new Accessibility Coordinator for the College of Education. She was also an intern for the DECA office. So I just think it's great. We hire students from all different departments, not just you know, web-based interns because we found that they are able to take this information and apply it in their careers afterwards. So is there any kind of questions on that? Yes.
Speaker 12: So how many total interns are there and how many full time accessibility staff are supervising or monitoring them?
Brooke Knapp: Yeah, that's a great question. So we have, in our office, I think right now we have seven interns. I want to say three of those interns are on SLA's for departments. And then we have four interns who are our central interns that help us with those efforts. Not to say that they don't help step in for remediation efforts when needed. And then myself and Bender split the supervision for those students. But we also have those departments across campus, Comm Arts for example. We've helped train their interns and onboard them, but they've dealt with like the management of their interns and so we're not managing them specifically, but they're still using that student model. Broad also is one of those colleges. We don't charge for the management of an intern if they're managed in our office. The only charge is for the cost for the student hourly wage, which at our office is $12.50 an hour starting, so.
That's some of the question. Does that kind of answer your question? Okay.
Speaker 10: Hello. Are there plans to scale this at all? Because then you'd need considerably more supervisory staff, or seven is a reasonable number to have going forward?Brooke Knapp:
That's a good question. I don't know. I think that depends on how much interest we get in it. Right now me and bender with seven do a good job of, it's not too much of a test to supervise them. But obviously if we have a lot of interests that might be a different discussion.
Nate Evans: Can I add something?
Brooke Knapp: Yeah.
Nate Evans: One of the things, which would be less of an impact to your area Graham, but one of the things we've been talking about is what would it look like for us to use a similar student model, but in the learning design space to check against like quality matters, standards, things like that. So, that's something we're investigating. But it would be other staff on the learning design side. So, there's been as many as four of us when we've had more interns that have done student management and then it just kind of varies. Yeah.
Brooke Knapp: Are there are any other questions on the student model? Awesome. So if you do have an interest in the model, you can reach out to us through web access.
But next would be academic publishers and Pearson, I don't know how many people have heard, but recently Pearson has been in the news a little bit about their digital content. So course materials such as textbooks and then their digital materials that come along with it. So there are quizzes and their online activities and such.
Recently, the NFB, which is the National Federation of the Blind, has basically condemned the use of Pearson products for being very inaccessible. Right now we're trying to evaluate what that actual risk is for the university. It's really hard in these circumstances and that's why we're kind of asking for your help, is because these publishers reach out directly to faculty. And because faculty, some normally rely on the students to buy these processes or these, I can't think of it, books or materials, thank you. It doesn't necessarily come through the purchasing process.
So normally our purchasing process is fairly simple. If it's something that's going to impact your student, or a large member of students in a classroom, even if it's free, we need it to come through our purchasing process. But for these kinds of things, we don't often see them. So it's kind of hard for us to establish what the actual risk is for the university. So if you're working with faculty or staff, and you see this being used in classes, just keep note of that, I guess, that would be the most helpful for us. But also just to reinforce our purchasing process and even if it's no cost to the professor, if it's going to affect students that they should still go through the purchasing process. That's our link here for the help and resources. This kind of goes over what a purchase would look like that need to come through our purchasing process.
But also re-establishing that risk with the professor, is that if you're choosing to use this in your classroom, that you're owning that risk for having the material in an inaccessible format. So right now, we're trying to gather evidence on what the actual impact is and so there's a lot of discussions in the big 10 I know going on about what we're going to do exactly with it, but I don't think anything’s been decided on yet, at this point.
Speaker 14: Is that a specific reference to their eTexts or is that a broader problem with their whole LMS supplemental things? You know like the Cengage Mind Lab or the McGraw Hill?
Brooke Knapp: So from my understanding,
Speaker 14: Because, those things scare me.
Brooke Knapp: Oh sorry. From my understanding it's everything, right? Okay. Yeah, I'm seeing some shaking heads. From my understanding it's their eText, but it's also their learning materials that they're using in class, like you pointed out. But that's also why we want to keep this in mind too for different, we're getting a lot of D2L integrations and these kinds of things that are coming through our office is we really want to reinforce that process even outside of Pearson, but just any kind of digital content or apps or anything that's going to be used and going to be required for course materials.
Nate Evans: So something that was suggested years ago in the old iterations of our accessibility working group, I want to say. Is there any reason there can't be essentially university wide memos or faculty wide memos going out a couple of months before each semester saying, Hey, these publishers seem to be doing a better job at accessibility, these might be more risky. While you can't tell them what to use or what not to use because of academic freedom issues. There's nothing that really should prevent us from being able to say these might be better or worse for those who are interested in that.
MSU traditionally has been very afraid of doing that for some reason. But it's something that perhaps with new administrations, maybe a possibility now, but that might be something helpful where if we know Pearson may be a higher risk, letting faculty know, Hey Pearson may be a higher risk, let them make the conclusion about, okay maybe I'll look at another publisher that they have a competing content that might be more accessible. But if they don't know because faculty, expecting them all to come to you and each individually ask that question isn't really realistic, but a memo going out to all of them immediately gets that information across.
Brooke Knapp: Yeah, and that's actually a conversation we just had recently. Is that's kind of what we were hoping to do. I know it's kind of hard for that reason is if you wanted to tell faculty members, or not tell them, but advise against using something they normally want to know what a replacement would be for that because I think that they would take that kind of concern seriously. So I think that's something that we'd work towards, hopefully, especially in light of this recent news, so because this is a big deal.
James Bender: And we have networks that we're connected to at the faculty level, the provost in a level that we can communicate to that can get it out in a message that faculty could digest it a little better than we can do it.
Speaker 12: In general, if its not going out to the faculty wide list it's not getting close. But the top down things don't work very well at MSU. There's a couple of departments that do it well, but it's a lot of touch but usually don't connect.
Brooke Knapp: Right. So in that meantime, I think it was, we were establishing just knowing if you do come across a professor that you're working with specifically, and you notice this in their class or these kinds of information, just asking those questions is, did you go through the purchasing process? Do you know how accessible it is? Is this required for your course? Just so we all can start understanding the risk that the university is undertaking.
Speaker 14: I have one more question on this. I'm looking at the publisher information and it says, ask them for details about the accessibility of the particular textbook or digital content. Is that enough, just to ask them about it? And B, what really should they be asking them? Because the answer they're going to get is, Oh, we have a VPAT on file and is that enough?
Brooke Knapp: So.
Speaker 14: You know what I mean? Are we just in CYA mode or is there like something that we can actually tell faculty members to do to... And I'm not attacking you, I'm just asking-
Brooke Knapp: Right.
Speaker 14: From a support perspective, what do we actually tell faculty members to do if they wrote the textbook, Pearson has it, they need to use that textbook in their class, and it's not accessible.
Brooke Knapp: Yeah.
Speaker 10: Is that the one you're referring to?
Speaker 14: The only thing I could find is in the FAQs.
Speaker 10: Okay, so this one may provide-
Speaker 14: Okay. Yeah.
Speaker 10: Yeah, so this is kind of like asking for publisher information, asking for a consult with our team. So, that might be a specific circumstance that we need to know what an EEAP is, what's our other method of delivering this information if a student can't get access to this in the course. I don't know that we've ever come across that yet. So that's probably something that we're going to have to figure out, especially in light of this. The NFB's recommendation was pretty firm on their line of that. And I think this is the first time they've kind of taken that stance with Pearson. So it's kind of through the relationship that they've worked through, trying to work with Pearson over the years to make it accessible and they just haven't gotten there. So this is very recent. I'm not sure specifically, and I think that's why there's conversation in the big 10, exactly how we're going to deal with it.
Speaker 12: [inaudible 00:54:04].
Brooke Knapp: Okay.
Speaker 12: We can circulate that after the call.
Brooke Knapp: Are there are any other questions or just general questions because I think that's the end of our?
Speaker 10: We have a question.
Gabrielle King: I have a general question about the five year plans. And having just come, in for those of you who don't know me, I'm Gabrielle King, I'm the new Accessibility Coordinator for the College of Ed.
What is the follow through going to look like after year five? I know that faculty is going to start asking that question, the closer that we get. So, I would like something to be able to tell them.
Brooke Knapp: Yeah, I was just going to stay. I'm going to repeat the question. So her question was we're in year four now, starting year four of the five year plans. She's wanting what it's going to look like after year five, for what to tell faculty of what's going to be the decision after year five if it's not accessible, is that what you're saying?
Gabrielle King: Yes.
Brooke Knapp: Or if you haven't met your goals?
Gabrielle King: Yes.
Brooke Knapp: Okay.
Nate Evans: Do you want to take that question Brooke?
Brooke Knapp: I can try. With the administration change, we're not exactly sure what that's going to look like. We now have the ADA Coordinator who has more power than maybe what our office is, so we'll have to defer to her, on what the answering is because ultimately she'll be the one to make that decision. But because of the administration change, it's kind of hard to know what administration is going to back from her standpoint and what will be doable. So, is that kind of inconsistent?
Nate Evans: That's a great answer.
Brooke Knapp: So I don't think we quite know yet, but we'll have to default to Aislinn Sapp, which is the ADA coordinator.
Nate Evans: The one thing I had mentioned too, just to this. Some of the rhetoric, the way we've changed the way we talk about accessibility, has changed over the last year or two. We've referred much more to you owning your own digital accessibility programs. This is not like a single program, this is 45 to 50 individual accessibility programs that now have liaisons that are leading, that are speaking at con... I mean I think about Kate, Jeremy, all you guys presenting nationally about this, about the great work you're doing within your college. That's a KPI for success within your own program. And so to say that goes away after year five, that's not going to happen. It's just continuing that work, strengthening your own program, having better communication within your own program, having your own tracking, having your own measurement, those kinds of things. Those are KPIs for success within your own programs.
So the one thing I would say is, well now we know that's going to continue. That's definitely going to continue and then we'll be having more conversations. You know, transition's happening right now, but definitely more conversations when the timing's right. And we've definitely been talking about this question a lot more in the accessibility review committee, so.
Did you have something else?
Brooke Knapp: Yeah.
Nate Evans: Here you go.
Heidi: I was basically going to say that I've gotten that question at the libraries as well. And Nate pretty much said what I was going to say is that, one thing I've been saying is, this isn't going to mean that our accessibility work ends, right? It's not going to be, check or done. And that we in the last five years have really learned how we can create a culture of accessibility or really strengthen our culture of accessibility in the libraries and continue to implement these procedures and processes down the road, whether that's in a formal way at the university level or internally within the libraries. And that seemed to have help some administrators or other others in the library wondering what's next.
Brooke Knapp: I also think another important thing is having faculty understand why we're doing this. We're not doing this because... Or I don't like to think we're doing it because the university wants to take on an unnecessary risk. We're really doing it to help our students. So if tomorrow all the laws change, which is highly unlikely, we would still do it for our students and not because someone is telling us to do it, we're doing it for student learning or that's what we're trying to accomplish at least. So, having those conversations are important.
Nate Evans: All of that said, that memo carried a lot of weight. The five-year memo, right? So, that drove a lot of this stuff. And as much as we all buy in and want to make those cultural changes, I think the questions come because people have thought like, well, without that memo and the weight behind it, you know what's holding us all to the fire to keep this cultural push forward. You know what I mean? So the more that you can advocate for some kind of follow on document or something, the better off I think all of us will be in instilling that culture.
Brooke Knapp: Awesome. Cool. Thank you. Thanks everyone for coming.