Previous ProposalReturn to ScheduleNext Proposal

Online Course Accessibility: Collaboration for Change at CUNY School of Professional Studies

Proposal No: 2720

Bios & Handouts


  • Christopher Leydon, Student Services Coordinator, CUNY School of Professional Studies
  • Antonia Levy, Instructional Technology and Multimedia Manager, CUNY School of Professional Studies

Disability Area:          

Topic Area:                  

Length of Session (in hours): 1-hrFormat: Lecture Expertise Level: All Levels Type of session: Not provided

Summary of Session

Drawing on recent experience at the CUNY School of Professional Studies, the presenters will outline practical collaborative approaches to improving accessibility of online instruction in the setting of a public institution of higher education.


Over the last two years, the CUNY School of Professional Studies has radically changed its approach to accessible online education, from providing mere reactive accommodations for students with disabilities and having very little in the way of accessibility awareness among faculty members to teaching principles of Universal Design in Learning (UDL) to both faculty and staff and implementing school-wide policies and procedures to guarantee access to all students, including those with disabilities. This presentation will focus on the various efforts eliminating institutional barriers to access, with particular attention to intra- and inter-campus collaboration as a holistic strategy for effecting change. We will share the experience of two CUNY SPS staff members committed to equal access who have exploited the evolving regulatory environment to engage their faculty and administration, while collaborating with like-minded colleagues across the University to foster system-wide change.


  1. Why collaboration between student services and academic affairs is crucial to online course accessibility.
  2. Strategies for connecting Universal Design principles with pedagogy to secure faculty buy-in.
  3. Leveraging both good will and fear of legal action to gain support from decision-makers who hold the purse.

Speaker Bio(s)

Christopher Leydon

Christopher Leydon is the Student Services Coordinator at CUNY School of Professional Studies, where he oversees student accommodations, assistive technology, and other aspects of disability services, as well as working to optimize the accessibility of online courses. Christopher began his career in student disability services at the CUNY Graduate Center, while completing a doctorate in comparative literature and a certificate in medieval studies. He has extensive experience teaching literature and writing in the CUNY system and is currently teaching an online course he developed for the Disability Studies MA program at CUNY SPS.

Antonia Levy

Antonia Levy, an East German transplant to New York City, is currently the Instructional Technology and Multimedia Manager at CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS). Working in faculty development and instructional technology, she is very interested in the implementation of universal design as part of the struggle for greater equality in higher education. Antonia is also finishing her dissertation in sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center, and has been teaching for the past years as an adjunct instructor at CUNY SPS and several other CUNY colleges.


AHG 2015 Online Course Accessibility AHG 2015 Online Course Accessibility