Hiding the Vegetables: How A Holistic Approach to Training Improves Digital Accessibility

Presented at 10:30am in Independence on Friday, November 10, 2023.



  • Mary Albert, Director, Digital Accessibility, Princeton University
  • Rachel Busnardo, Training and Outreach Manager (Digital Accessibility), Princeton University

Session Details

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


This session addresses how to improve the effectiveness of digital accessibility efforts by pairing training with environmental supports. Princeton’s holistic approach takes a broad view of training and builds in task-level and operational solutions that result in behavior change. We will examine the various supports Princeton has put in place, present measurements, and provide participants with ideas and examples to apply within their own institutions.


As higher education institutions work toward greater digital accessibility, it is helpful to understand the approaches of peers. By examining the aspects of Princeton’s accessibility training and its associated environmental supports, colleagues can consider which practices they might adapt to their own institutions.

Princeton’s holistic approach recognizes that training is a core component of successful digital accessibility efforts. In order to be effective, training must result in new habits being applied. However, skills taught outside of the work itself, without practice, does not develop proficiency. Princeton has put in place environmental supports that help ensure staff in a variety of roles consistently apply digital accessibility best practices to their everyday work.

The session will begin with a brief overview of the university and the digital accessibility program to provide institutional context. It will then present the development of the training and supporting environmental solutions that together ensure that IT and digital content are accessible.

Like many other programs, we have a small staff to support digital accessibility. By designing and leveraging environmental supports along with training, we are able to broaden our reach. The presentation will examine how Princeton embeds training into our environment and takes training outside the classroom and builds it into everyday job tasks. Examples include procurement, project funding and management, website editing, content development, application design, testing, and presentations and events.

We will describe how the digital accessibility team designed and implemented each support, and provide measures of its effectiveness. By sharing Princeton's holistic training approach, the presenters hope to provide insights and ideas that will assist colleagues at other institutions in the development of their own solutions.


  1. Pairing training with environmental supports improves digital accessibility.
  2. Environmental supports widen the reach of small digital accessibility staff.
  3. Digital accessibility should be built into everyday tasks and organizational operations.

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Administrative/Campus Policy, Other, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Mary Albert

Mary is the Director of Digital Accessibility at Princeton University in the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology. She founded and leads the Digital Accessibility program, and is responsible for all aspects of its design and implementation. She develops University policy and strategy, working across the institution to address issues of governance, practice, risk, and compliance. Mary helps ensure people with disabilities can access and use the institution's IT and the information it provides, and are valued in the University's culture and community.

Mary champions accessibility wherever technology and digital information are designed and developed, acquired, or used. She is known for her engaging approach and strengths in partnership-building and forward-thinking that propel the Princeton digital accessibility program’s success.

Bringing over 20 years’ experience in IT management to her role, Mary is an active contributor to the accessibility profession. She is a member of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals Organization and Professional Development Committee, is a contributor to the CPACC Body of Knowledge, helped develop the accessibility questions for the Higher Education Community Vendor Assessment Toolkit, and presents regularly at national conferences.

Rachel Busnardo

Rachel is the Training and Outreach Manager for Princeton University's Digital Accessibility program. With over 10 years of experience in teaching and training, she helps empower the campus community to create digital environments and materials that are more accessible to all people. She also works with campus partners both within and outside the Office of Information Technology to spread awareness about digital accessibility and help the campus community build and apply new skillsets.

Rachel holds an MA in Learning Design and Technology, with a research focus in digital accessibility and universal design for learning in higher education, and an MFA in Creative Writing. She uses her experience as a lecturer in literature and creative writing to help her create training programs in tech that don’t feel too techy.