Road to EIT Accessibility on Campus: Q & A with Rob Eveleigh
Last week we spoke with Rob Eveleigh, the Five College EIT Accessibility Coordinator in Western Massachusetts. Rob has been a pioneer in creating a comprehensive campus-wide IT accessibility program for four of the five colleges in the consortium (Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges).
His position sprung from a multi-pronged proposal after multiple IT professionals within the consortium saw the need for a unified, campus-wide program. With the encouragement and resilient support of university executives, the EIT Accessibility Coordinator position was born in 2015.
After conducting an extensive audit on all four campuses’ current technologies, Rob implemented a systematic accessibility program with the goal of creating parity and open communication within the four campuses.
In the webinar Q & A session, Rob gives guidance on how to effectively implement an EIT accessibility program. Read audience Q & A highlights below, or watch the webinar for an insight into the program’s structure.
How has faculty responded to this accessibility initiative? Do you have any advice on getting faculty buy-in?
ROB EVELEIGH: So two pieces here. One is actually, faculty buy-in is tough. Working with faculty can be tough. It can be very rewarding, and it also can be challenging.
We had an IT accessibility committee at one campus. But when we broadened it to be considered fully campus-wide, that involved bringing in a representative from the dean of faculty’s office. And I think this was a really huge thing.
This is a committee that meets every two weeks. And we’ve got someone from the dean of faculty’s office there, who’s really up to speed with this whole initiative. And then that person acts as the interface with faculty.
So by having the charge that listed the membership and included faculty, and then getting that person on board and really able to interface with faculty has been really, really important.
Executive sponsorship played an important role in the implementation of this shared position. How did the executive sponsorship originate at the Five College Consortium to develop this initiative?
ROB EVELEIGH: It was a multipronged proposal. There were folks talking back and forth. You have your disability services directors. You have your IT folks, and others, and risk and compliance. And simultaneously, three groups or more were reading about these resolution agreements and the Dear Colleague letter. I’d say Five Colleges played this critical role of being aware of the dialogue in these different committees and groups of people and pulling it all together to say, what’s our best path?
The best path– and I see it in a lot of resolution agreements– is through IT, specifically through the CIOs taking a leadership role on this. What was great was the group of CIOs then presented [the proposal] to the president.
It was both bottom up and top down. Everyone was aware. A lot of people were talking about this. Five Colleges played this crucial role in collecting everyone’s thoughts, ideas on how to handle this, and what a good next step would be, which is the shared position.
As part of the extensive audit conducted, an environmental scan was performed in which all the four campus’s current technologies were analyzed. Who answered the questionnaire in your environmental scan of the colleges?
ROB EVELEIGH: I did the interviews and attended standing meetings. So I initially filled it out. I filled it out based on what I knew. Then I followed up with individual interviews with folks. I sent the questionnaire to them with the answers I put in. And then there was, I’d say, some robust editing, which is healthy.
Even beyond that it would go to individuals. We would bring it up at the tech access committee, in front of the whole group, and say, let’s answer these questions collectively as a group. That was actually at the campuses that had a tech access committee at that point.
So I think it was a really good process. It was a fair amount of effort, the environmental scan. But I think it was a really good result, a really good snapshot. It let us know where we’re at with all four schools.
When submitting a request, such as a captioning request, what is the process like? Does faculty or staff submit the request?
ROB EVELEIGH: We’ve got four different programs at four different schools. So I’d say we see a bit of a spectrum…So it kind of goes down to the workflow. Idea is, how do you build it into the workflow? There are faculty that are game enough to try to build it into their workflow.
In other cases– again, we’ve got four campuses– there are workflows where we have captioning teams where we have educational content. We’ve got things like communications and college relations where we have specific individuals that are kind of fluent [in requesting captions]. As great as the 3Play website is, it still takes a slight learning curve to use it, as with any piece of technology.
We would like to get to the point where it’s just kind of universal and that folks can work independently. But I think right now we’re doing a lot of assistance in that workflow.
Watch the full presentation below: