Building an Accessible Culture in Higher Ed




  • Esther Brandon, Digital Literacy Specialist, Brandeis University
  • Sarah Ferguson, Program Director for Digital Accessibility, Brandeis University

Session Details

  • Length of Session: quick talk
  • Format: Interactive/Discussion
  • Expertise Level: Beginner
  • Type of session: Pre-conference


Over the past several years, we have endeavored to create a campus-wide accessible culture with faculty buy-in at Brandeis University. During the conference session, we will detail our current processes and outline our plans to move forward with this initiative. We will also engage the audience through discussion and an elevator pitch activity.


At Brandeis University, the initial accessibility movement began with a few dedicated staff, who through a systematic training program over several years, developed a larger audience. Students then advocated for a campus-wide discussion, which sparked a movement.

The first half of our presentation explores the progression of starting small, by targeting individuals to engage with accessibility work, and an education campaign around accessible needs on campus. Through engaging the community at large, we will share how to build a system of advocates.

The second half of the presentation facilitates an interactive conversation with attendees around best practices for training methods and workshop failures, followed by a group brainstorm to create a 1-2 minute pitch targeted to a specific individual in order to engage them in conversation about accessibility. Attendees will then write and practice their pitches. A few participants will share their pitches to conclude the workshop.


  1. Discover how educational institutions can build a grassroots framework around accessibility.
  2. Articulate several examples of successful faculty and staff accessibility workshops.
  3. Create and practice an elevator pitch to engage in conversation about accessibility.

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Administrative/Campus Policy, Faculty Development & Support, Institutional/Campus Change, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Esther Brandon

Esther Brandon is the Digital Literacy Specialist for undergraduate and graduate programs at Brandeis University. She is an enthusiastic seeker of new instructional technologies that is focused on best teaching practices. Esther has a B.A. in Anthropology and International & Global Studies and a Masters of Arts in Teaching in Secondary Education for English Literature from Brandeis University. Before returning to higher ed, she taught in public schools K-12 focusing on using educational technology for instruction to support English Language Learners and students with moderate disabilities.

Sarah Ferguson

Sarah Elizabeth Ferguson is the Program director for digital accessibility at Brandeis University with almost 20 years of experience in higher education. She completed her undergraduate work at Connecticut College and earned her Masters in education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, with a focus in specialty education technology. Ferguson is a linguophile with a passion for painting, dogs, and the color purple.