This is the second in a two-part series on a partnership between the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) and WCET (the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies) to obtain feedback from some of our members. Part 1 focused on the outcome of that general question at two sessions last fall. Part 2 is the results of a more targeted discussion at a recent OLC Innovate session. The participants were small groups who attended our conferences. Now we would like to open the conversation and hear from you.

Continuing the Conversation at OLC Innovate

Kathleen Ives (CEO of OLC), Karen Pedersen (Chief Knowledge Officer at OLC),OLC logo and Russ Poulin (Director, Policy and Analysis at WCET) reviewed the results of your input as outlined in the Part 1 blog post. At OLC Innovate 2017 in New Orleans, we conducted a follow-up session. BOLC logoased on results from the two Fall conferences, this time we focused strictly on issues surrounding accessibility. It was one area for which there was great concern expressed and for which our organizations could collaborate to better serve our members…and students.

To glean insights from the group assembled at Innovate, we asked “as a leader navigating accessibility issues on your campus, what is the one issue/challenge that keeps you up at night”?  The insights were encapsulated into three primary trends focusing on students, faculty, and systems.

  • Student Focus:Young women with computer
    • Students want more media – things read to them and more students have different needs (e.g., returning veterans).
    • Accessibility is also a moving target – “if you meet one student with Autism Spectrum Disorder, you have only met one”.
    • A focus on building courses and/or changing existing content with accessibility in mind can help all students.
  • Faculty Perspectives:
    • We need faculty change agents or “champions” – work to change culture.
    • Faculty sometimes aren’t sure about the research behind solutions – they need training.
    • Is there an impact on innovation? – Some faculty are afraid to innovate and/or use new teaching strategies or technology because of accessibility concerns.
  • System Insights:
    • We need an expert to help navigate – “I don’t understand the rules and need to know more about what is required or what is enough.”
    • Often accessibility offices are over-taxed.
    • Administratively the institution needs to understand the consequences – but find solutions in collaboration with faculty.

We then did a deeper dive and asked “What resources do you rely on today and what resources would you like to have for tomorrow?”  Excerpts from attendees on this two-part question included:

  • What resources do we rely on today?
    • Lean heavily on W3C Accessibility
    • Consulting companies that do accessibility compliance reviews.
    • Rely on accessibility offices (however, they may not have the awareness of online) who often interface with legal staff.
    • Faculty taking the lead.
    • Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT).
  • What resources would you like to have for tomorrow?
    • Rules “cheat sheet” in simple, easy-to-understand language.
    • Decision making flow chart.
    • Simple check for a common standard or minimum viability for accessibility – “you might lose some degree of granularity, but it might help with 80%”.
    • Repository for knowledge and resource sharing – every institution is reinventing the wheel.
    • Content repository of already compliant resources.

More Feedback Wanted. What’s Next?

We greatly appreciate the input from those attending the OLC Innovate session. It was a small group and we would like to expand the conversation.
we want to hear from youDo these accessibility topics resonate with you? Please add comments with insights or perspectives you would like to share.

We are in talks now about next steps. We are thinking about better methods to track the “what keeps me up at night” question in the future. We are also talking about shared resources focusing on accessibility issues.


Kathleen Ives
OLC Chief Executive Officer and
Executive Director

Karen Pedersen
OLC Chief Knowledge Officer

Russ Poulin
WCET Director of Policy and Analysis

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