From doing to consulting: How Indiana University transformed the alternative media process

#36343

Speaker(s)

  • Michael Mace, IT Manager, Indiana University

Session Details

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

Summary

Struggling to meet the needs of your students? Finding yourself buried in converting media instead of moving the accessibility needle forward? Learn how Indiana University's Assistive Technology and Accessibility Centers went from a staff of 40+ full and part-time employees to a staff of 9 while decreasing remediation time and increasing service offerings.

Abstract

Indiana University found itself at a crossroad. Alternative media requests continued to increase year over year, and the Assistive Technology and Accessibility Center had exceeded its capacity to fulfill those requests. Employees were burning out, and the logistics of running a shop with 30+ part-time workers was unsustainable. IU needed to make some meaningful changes to meet the current and future needs of faculty, students, and staff. The ATAC began a journey in the Fall of 2019. They decided to start engaging vendors to fulfill their media requests. This allowed the ATAC to focus more on the individual course materials that the instructors created. This reduced their backlog and increased their ability to get materials out to the students. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. The ATAC needed to do more. In the spring of 2020, the ATAC decided on a bold new strategy. Previous accommodation work had focused on converting material for one student, in one class, for one semester. While this "fixed" the course for the student who requested the accommodation, it wasn't permanent, and it didn't help the silent needs of students who couldn't or wouldn't disclose their disability. The ATAC instead shifted from remediating materials for a particular student to remediating the materials for all students. We would remediate the course for everyone, and not just the person who requested accommodation. Immediately after the change in strategy took place, COVID hit. The ATAC had to take a staff reduction. So, in fall of 2020, the ATAC took one more step. They successfully pushed the responsibility of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel remediation back to the instructor without a policy change or a mandate. As a result of all the changes, the new operating model of the ATAC has not only reduced the number of staff required to operate but has also allowed it to be more proactive. It now has the breathing room to work with departments to prevent accessibility barriers.

Keypoints

  1. Alternative media requests can overwhelm offices that manage them
  2. Sharing responsibility for alternative media is key to a sustainable alternative media program
  3. It is important to fix the process, not just the media

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Accessible Educational Materials, Alternate Format, Captioning/Transcription, Faculty Development & Support, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Michael Mace

Michael Mace is the manager of the Assistive Technology and Accessibility Center for the Indiana University system. In the five years since Michael has joined the team, he has been a driver of change to move Indiana University forward in its accessibility journey by increasing advocacy and awareness around each of Indiana's nine campuses, plus its online program Michael received his Master’s Degree in Learning Design and Technology from Purdue University. A huge proponent of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Michael continues to research practical methods for applying the concepts of UDL using technology in both online and traditional courses.