Subject area studies as a means to involve faculty and increase accessibility

Handouts Media

Presented at 11:15am in WB I on Wednesday, November 16, 2016.



  • Phyllis Petteys, Accessibility Specialist, Portland Community College
  • Karen Sorensen, Accessibility Advocate for Online Courses, Portland Community College
  • Angel Chesimt, Disability Counselor, Portland Community College

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format:
  • Expertise Level: Not provided
  • Type of session: General Conference


Portland Community College has found subject-area accessibility studies a rewarding collaborative effort that has many benefits. We will explain how the studies are funded, organized and conducted, and share results of our studies in Math, Computer Science, Geography and Communication Studies.


Distance Learning’s accessibility team and Disability Services staff are not subject area experts and faculty are not accessibility experts. We will share how we have engaged faculty to examine a subject area and increase accessibility in their discipline.

Two faculty are paid for one 10 week term to investigate, document, and develop best practices specific to the accessible online delivery of content in their subject area. The faculty are supported by the DL and DS staff. In the process, we have the opportunity to work together to examine accessibility and become better advocates for one another and for our students. As faculty learn to think about accessibility and become excited about it, they share findings with their colleagues and effect change in their disciplines.


  1. Recognize that involving faculty is an important way to improve accessibility for students
  2. Benefits to conducting subject area studies
  3. Discussion of how to implement subject area studies

Disability Areas

Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Mobility, Vision

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Alternate Format, Assistive Technology

Speaker Bio(s)

Phyllis Petteys

Phyllis is an Accessibility Specialist for Disability Services at Portland Community College in Portland, OR. Prior to coming to PCC in 2013, she was an Assistive Technology Specialist for 18 years, working in higher education as well as in the community.

Karen Sorensen

Karen Sorensen is the Accessibility Advocate for Online Courses at PCC. She has been in this position for 5 years since Distance Education at PCC took on the challenge to ensure online courses are accessible to students with disabilities. Before this position, she was a web developer for 5 years on the college web team. She has a Masters in Education: Policies, Foundations and Administration from Portland State University. Her passion is using technology for good.

Angel Chesimt

Angel Chesimet, MS, CRC, has a masters in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling and works for PCC as a Counselor and Accessibility Technician. She also provides services to the community in her private counseling practice.