The Princeton Approach: Designing and Sustaining an Effective Digital Accessibility Program

Handouts Media

Presented at 2:15pm in Penrose 2 on Wednesday, November 16, 2022.



  • 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 is designed to give participants ideas and practical examples to start up or enhance their institution's digital accessibility efforts. Princeton has taken a programmatic approach since launching digital accessibility in 2017, and its successes and lessons learned are worth sharing. Participants will learn about the program's foundation of values, goals, and partnerships, its focus on high impact services, and the practices that help it thrive.


As higher education institutions begin or expand their digital accessibility programs, it is helpful to understand the approaches of peers. By examining the effective aspects of Princeton’s efforts, colleagues can consider which practices might be adapted for their own institutions.

Princeton launched its digital accessibility program in 2017. Since the creation of its initial strategy, the program remains grounded in institutional values and is supported by close partnership with campus stakeholders, both of which help determine its short and long range goals. Digital accessibility efforts are further supported by best practices and a dependence on organizational strengths. The success of Princeton’s program continues to rely on its foundation of values, partnerships, and goals.

The session will begin with a brief overview of the university and the digital accessibility program, to provide institutional context and the role of the program within it.

The presentation will then describe the founding and maturation of Princeton's approach to digital accessibility by addressing the three cornerstones of its program: how it is tied to institutional values including principles of equity, increasing the scope of diversity efforts to more consistently include people with disabilities, and creating inclusive programs and services; campus partnerships, including the early recognition and continued focus on their criticality, which offices are key, and how relationships are maintained and strengthened; and the establishment and periodic re-examination of the pragmatic goals of the digital accessibility program, including how its priorities are determined, resources provided, and operations managed.

Princeton's approach will then be examined through the lens of its current five-year plan, including the areas of leadership, policy and governance, technology and content, training and outreach, and procurement. Each area will highlight its most effective components and briefly examine the reasons for their success. By sharing Princeton's approach, the presenters hope to provide insights and ideas that will assist colleagues at other institutions in the development of their own digital accessibility programs.


  1. Tying a digital accessibility program to institutional values clarifies its purpose.
  2. Digital accessibility goals designed to organizational strengths are more likely to succeed.
  3. Successful partnerships improve digital accessibility across the institution.

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 the Office of Information Technology’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 institution to strategize ways to spread awareness about digital accessibility and help the campus community establish an accessibility mindset.

Rachel holds an MA in Learning Design and Technology, with a research focus on 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.