Lessons learned building an internal digital accessibility consultancy at Yale

Handouts Media

Presented at 2:15pm in Cotton Creek II on Thursday, November 15, 2018.



  • Michael Harris, Accessibility Engineer, Yale University
  • Michael Vaughn, Associate Director of Digital Accessibility, Yale University
  • Michelle Morgan, Digital Accessibility Specialist, Yale University

Session Details

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


We will outline how Yale has been successful setting up an internal consultancy to support accessibility throughout the university. We will describe the group's role and scope within the institution and how it interacts with other campus units. We will discuss approaches to supporting multiple stakeholders, from faculty to web developers.


Yale is building an internal consultancy that supports and educates units about accessibility. Our team only owns accessibility expertise — responsibility for accessibility issues and resolutions falls on site owners. Even though we do not own the problem or the solution, we have nevertheless developed strategies to improve the accessibility of our digital campus.

Our strategy to support instruction includes intervening with faculty-adjacent roles. We target librarians involved with course reserves and creating PDFs from scanned documents. We target registrars and administrative assistants whom faculty ask to maintain content. We target teaching assistants who often manage courses' online presence.

For staff web developers, we seldom perform site reviews. Instead, we have ongoing training sessions and self-service materials to developers best practices and methods for evaluating their own site. Rather than answer "Is my site accessible?" we consult on specific UI questions.


  1. An accessibility unit can be effective even though it doesn't own institutional responsibility.
  2. Building relationships with faculty-adjacent roles can produce significant teaching and learning improvements.
  3. Self-service and consultative resources can empower site and product owners to verify their own accessibility.

Disability Areas

Topic Areas

Administrative/Campus Policy, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Michael Harris

Michael Wayne Harris is the Accessibility Engineer at Yale.

Michael Vaughn

Mike Vaughn is the Associate Director of Digital Accessibility at Yale. Prior to Yale, he was the IT Director and Assistant Dean of Technology at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing

Michelle Morgan

Michelle Morgan is the Digital Accessibility Specialist at Yale University. She also holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale.