From the ground up: Accessibility journeys of two universities

Handouts Media

Presented at 11:30am in Penrose 1 on Wednesday, November 16, 2022.



  • Kate DeForest, Web/Digital Content Coordinator, State University of New York at Oswego
  • Luz Espanola, Accessibility Specialist, California State University Monterey Bay

Session Details

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


Understanding and practicing digital accessibility is now more critical than ever. In this session, attendees will hear about accessibility journeys from two universities on opposite sides of the country. Kate Percival, from the State University of New York at Oswego, and Luz Espanola, from California State University Monterey Bay, will share perspectives on how to start a digital accessibility initiative and keep the momentum going.


Digital accessibility is an extremely important, yet sometimes overlooked aspect of higher education. As we continue to spend much of our time in online and virtual environments, understanding and practicing digital accessibility is more critical than ever.

Kate Percival, from the State University of New York at Oswego, and Luz Espanola, from California State University Monterey Bay, met at Accessing Higher Ground in 2021. We started comparing notes on accessibility initiatives at our respective universities and discussing ways we are encouraging our communities to be involved. In this session, we bring together our journeys from opposite sides of the country.

Inspired by one another, we share some of the ideas our universities are implementing. We’ll provide simple, yet effective strategies each university has used to hire a team of accessibility professionals and help create collaborative partnerships, broaden the understanding of the word “accessibility” as it relates to inclusion, and shift the narrative to empower others to do their part to remove barriers.

Attendees will hear each of our perspectives. From CSU Monterey Bay, Luz will talk about the inception of a campus-wide digital accessibility initiative and ways others can get started. From SUNY Oswego, Kate will discuss how to continue those beginning efforts and grow the initiative.


  1. Create partnerships and a team of professionals to run programming within accessibility initiatives
  2. Broaden the understanding of the word “accessibility” as it relates to equality and inclusion
  3. Shift the narrative to encourage and empower others to remove barriers and push the momentum forward

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Administrative/Campus Policy, Faculty Development & Support, Uncategorized, Universal Design for Learning

Speaker Bio(s)

Kate DeForest

Kate DeForest is Web/Digital Content Coordinator for State University of New York at Oswego. She updates and maintains the university’s primary website and trains campus personnel on web and digital accessibility best practices. As a member and former chair of the Workgroup on Accessibility Practices, Kate has worked on a number of campus accessibility initiatives, including building Oswego’s Digital Accessibility website and launching multiple Campus Accessibility Challenges. Kate is a member of IAAP and a Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC). She has given accessibility-related presentations at numerous local, state, national, and international conferences, including Accessing Higher Ground, HighEdWeb, AHEAD, and Higher Education Connect.

Luz Espanola

Luz has varied experiences with accessibility in Higher Education. Her roles at California State University, Monterey Bay have been the Student Accommodations Coordinator for Student Disability Resources, and an Instructional Designer with the Center for Academic Technologies. In these roles she supported students in accommodation needs including alternative media, and supported faculty with their course design and instruction. At the start of 2022 she landed the role of Accessibility Specialist, responsible for leading document remediation services, digital accessibility training, and assistive technology consulting. Luz also serves as the ATHEN membership coordinator.