4 Years Later: Reflecting on a Proactive, Collaborative Model for Students with Visual Impairments


Presented at 9:15am in Matchless on Friday, November 10, 2023.



  • Ione Priest, Assistant Director, MSU Denver
  • Melissa Cermak, Associate Director, MSU Denver

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: All Levels
  • Type of session: General Conference


In this session, attendees will hear about MSU Denver’s evolution of a proactive and collaborative model to greatly improve our services to students with visual impairments.


Following a complaint from several students with visual impairments regarding barriers with the accommodation process, the Access Center at MSU Denver restructured our processes to center access over accommodation.

Now four years on, we reflect on our journey. We will share insights on shifting processes, early adjustments that were made, and some of the initial feedback received from both students and faculty.

We will additionally share our current state and future plans.


  1. Shifting focus from accommodation to access creates more opportunities for conversations and improvements when working with blind and low-vision students.
  2. A collaborative model greatly increases the avenues to address potential barriers for students with visual impairments quickly and effectively.
  3. Proactive communication helps avoid barriers and increase a student’s overall experience in courses.

Disability Areas


Topic Areas

Accessible Educational Materials, Administrative/Campus Policy, Alternate Format, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Ione Priest

Ione Priest is the Assistant Director for the Access Center at MSU Denver. They have worked in the accessibility field for 18 years, predominantly in alternative formats and assistive technology. They received their CPACC certification in 2018 and Trusted Tester certification in 2021.

Melissa Cermak

Melissa Cermak is the Associate Director for the Access Center at MSU Denver.  She received her M.S.in School Psychology and Ph.D. in Psychology from Iowa State University.  In addition to accessibility services, Melissa has worked in the college counseling centers and fee-for-service support programs for students with learning disabilities. Prior to work in the post-secondary setting, she was a school psychologist in Iowa.