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Digital Accessibility

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) 2024

When it comes to digital accessibility, the first step is building awareness about what digital accessibility is and why it is so important. GAAD is all about building this awareness and having candid discussions about how accessibility profoundly impacts the lives of people with disabilities.

Our USC Digital Accessibility team is thrilled to celebrate GAAD today, as it marks one year since we started our blog and our website revamp. It feels like the perfect opportunity to reflect on our accomplishments over the last year and think about what is soon to come.

Trainings We've Provided

Since GAAD 2023, our team has developed and presented a number of new accessibility trainings. Through USC and through a national accessibility organization, we have provided the following 10 trainings since last year, in addition to numerous others:

Document Accessibility

Collaborating with a colleague, Dow Hammond provided 3 interactive trainings about how to develop accessible course content with Microsoft Word documents and PowerPoint presentations. Blackboard Ally tool was also covered. These sessions were provided through Center for Teaching Excellence.

Digital Accessibility Roundtable Discussion

This informal discussion focused on what digital accessibility is, types of assistive technology, and why it is important to keep accessibility in mind when developing digital content. This was part of last year’s USC Oktoberbest 2023 Symposium.

Data Visualization Accessibility

As part of the Analytics Community of Practice, Mary presented 2 BI Workshares: one focused on creating accessible dashboards in Tableau, and the second focused on creating accessible data visualizations for screen reader users by writing alt text and providing data tables.

Website Revamp and Blog

We have revamped our USC Digital Accessibility website with more streamlined navigation, more photos & visual aids, and perhaps most notably, a toolbox full of guides about how to create accessible digital content.

Specifically, we’ve added to the digital accessibility toolbox:

  • Cheat sheets for easy references to digital accessibility best practices.
  • Tips for using Blackboard Ally to create alternative formats and gauge your course’s accessibility.
  • Detailed guides about how to create accessible documents and videos.

As for our Accessibility Blog, we have had the opportunity to post 14 articles in the last year. Some articles, such as Accessibility in Virtual Environments and Don’t Call Me a Person with Disabilities, were even written by a couple of stellar student contributors. We are very grateful for their contributions and willingness to share their passion for accessibility!

Digital Accessibility Network

Near the start of 2024 was when we launched the USC Digital Accessibility Network, which replaced the former accessibility liaison program. This Network is a diverse group of about 20 USC employees, including academic professors, IT and digital services specialists, and student and/or employee support staff that are championing accessibility. This group contains some members that live with a disability of their own and some members that directly serve other people with disabilities.

This Network’s grassroot approach is to connect members’ accessibility perspectives and insights from their individual units and experiences. Bringing these perspectives together is meant to lead toward collective understandings and goals to help expand accessibility awareness campuswide.

Procurement Process Updates

As part of a continuous collaboration between the Technical Review Board and our purchasing/procurement officers at USC, we now have an established process for reviewing vendors for digital accessibility guidelines (following the university's IT 5.00 Policy [PDF]) as part of the Request for Proposal (RFP) process.

What’s Next?

Our team is eager to continue building awareness of digital accessibility through our trainings, website guides, blog, and network, especially given the upcoming changes to the legal landscape. The Department of Justice's final rule on ADA Title II becomes effective on June 24, 2024, and will formally recognize the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Version 2.1 Level AA as the technical standard for ensuring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act in digital spaces.

We are currently updating the IT 5.00 Policy to reflect the most accurate and up-to-date information surrounding the requirements for digital accessibility compliance at the university. We expect to see the adoption of the revised policy sometime in 2025. 

Lastly, we hope you’ll be on the lookout for some of our upcoming learning opportunities:

  • A session on writing Alternative Text will be provided by Dow Hammond this summer at the South Carolina K12 Digital Accessibility Bootcamp
  • More bite-size videos will be featured on our website to address various digital accessibility topics. 
  • Trainings by request.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.