Evaluating Document Accessibility: Training Student Employees

Handouts Media

Presented at 8:00am in Penrose 1 on Thursday, November 9, 2023.



  • Kathryn Tipton, Program Manager, CSUN
  • Stacy Jones, Accessibility Analyst, CSUN

Session Details

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


Our university saw a need for additional support to ensure digital content is (more) accessible. For two years, we have trained cohorts of student employees to first evaluate, and then if needed fix digital documents. In this presentation we will cover how we teach them to evaluate documents as well as how the program was established, what we learned, and our next steps for 2023-24.


CSUN has long taken a "teach them to fish" approach to accessibility. While training and supporting staff and faculty helps to a point, it became clear that to advance our progress, we would need additional resources and support. As a state university, however, cost is always a factor.

We already have an investment in student employees. Not only do they provide support in a variety of roles, they have direct knowledge of department priorities and subject areas in ways a vendor would not.

This training program provides additional, marketable skills to our student employees. At the same time, we engage the students by presenting accessibility within the context of diversity, equity and inclusion.

The first step towards accessibility is evaluating a file: does it need to be fixed? what fixes does it need? Our program emphasizes evaluation as a critical step and a skill of its own.

In this presentation, first, we will outline the formation of this program. Then we'll share and review our training plan. We'll take attendees through a condensed version of the document accessibility evaluation steps we teach to our student employees. We will provide handouts and references on evaluating documents that attendees can take back to their institutions. Finally, we'll discuss what we have learned so far and our next steps for 2023-24.


  1. How to evaluate different document formats for accessibility.
  2. Provide a cost-effective scalable way for departments to address inaccessible files by investing in students.
  3. Lessons from a new approach to document remediation at a large university.

Disability Areas

All Areas, Vision

Topic Areas

Accessible Educational Materials, Faculty Development & Support, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Kathryn Tipton

Kate Tipton is the Program Manager for Accessibility at the Universal Design Center at CSU, Northridge. She has over 15 years of software development and management experience, with a focus on user experience development for web and mobile. She has presented at AHG, the CSUN Assistive Technology conference, and Educause, on a range of topics around accessible technology.

Stacy Jones

With degrees in Deaf Studies and Social Work, and professional experience in purchasing, information technology, and diversity, equity and inclusion, Stacy Jones brings a unique and well-rounded perspective to her work on the procurement goal area of the Accessible Technology Initiative as well as training and outreach for California State University, Northridge.