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Accessibility Network at UC presents inaugural Digital Inclusion Day

The event at UC Blue Ash welcomed participants from across Ohio to learn new accessibility techniques, network with colleagues and incorporate eAccessibility into university culture.

A woman in a black pants-suit with a yellow blouse addresses the audience from behind the podium.

Dr. Bleuzette Marshall, Vice President of Equity and Inclusion, gave the welcoming and opening address to kick off the event. Photo/Andrea Rahtz

The University of Cincinnati hosted its annual digital inclusion day, a conference at UC Blue Ash to promote electronic accessibility.

The June 5 conference drew attendees inside and outside the UC community to learn about how to incorporate accessibility into their everyday work materials. 

Bleuzette Marshall, vice president of equity and inclusion, kicked off the meeting by encouraging attendees to share what they learned with colleagues, friends and family.

“We want to make sure all members of the community can live, love, learn, work, grow and thrive in a safe, supported environment,” Marshall said. “A digitally inclusive community is important to vibrant economic and civic participation.”

A woman dressed in a black shirt and red skirt smiles warmly as she speaks to the audience.

Heidi Pettyjohn, executive director of accessibility, talks about the origins of the Accessibility Network first began. Photo/Andrea Rahtz

Heidi Pettyjohn, executive director of accessibility and ADA/504/EIT Coordinator in UC's Division of Student Affairs, detailed how accessibility started at UC and what that looks like today.  

“We set a vision when we started to make sure that students with disabilities would experience our virtual landscape as one of the largest tools in the toolbox, not the largest barrier to overcome success,” Pettyjohn said. “This is what today is about. We want this to be a part of our culture, where accessibility is integrated and we see it as a strategy to inclusion – not something we do because we have to.”

The keynote address was given by Lucy Greco, Web Accessibility Evangelist at the University of California Berkeley. Greco discussed her personal educational journey and why accessibility was so important for her along the way.

Two women and a guide dog appear center stage, one holding a microphone, while a man watches from the wings and a woman displays live captioning.

Lucy Greco, center, discusses her accessibility experiences with the audience during UC's Digital Inclusion Day conference. Heidi Pettyjohn, right, and Francis the guide dog accompany her onstage. Andy Alderson, Project Manager in IT@UC looks on from behind the curtain while a CART writer displays notes on the large screen monitor. Photo/Andrea Rahtz

Everything you do to make something more accessible affects real people.

Lucy Greco, Web accessibility advocate at UC Berkeley

“Everything you do to make something more accessible affects real people," Greco said.

"It affects people and their future: their ability to produce, their ability to support themselves, and more importantly, to contribute to society in their own way. Every time we make something accessible, we make it better for everyone,” she said. “Accessibility doesn’t affect one person; the barrier affects one person. And we don’t know what that one person’s impact could have. They could save the world!”

A man and a woman speak from behind a computer address while the audience looks on; a sign language interpreter appears in the background.

Malik Spencer and Noelle Bareswilt present their topic, Accessibility for Web Developers, during their breakout session.

After the opening session, attendees fanned out for the rest of the day to learn from Accessibility Network and Ohio State University presenters during breakout sessions. Topics such as introduction to accessibility, captioning, web accessibility and accessibility in the purchasing process were highlighted. Digital presentations from the day’s events are available on the Accessibility Network’s Digital Inclusion Day webpage.

“This event was such an important first step into taking the accessibility conversation to a larger level,” Pettyjohn said of UC’s Digital Inclusion Day.

“I’m incredibly proud of the Accessibility Network who helped put it together, the support from UC’s leadership and, of course, the strong partnerships formed across Ohio and the nation. I couldn’t be happier about how it all turned out.”

This event was such an important first step into taking the accessibility conversation to a larger level. I couldn’t be happier about how it all turned out.

Heidi Pettyjohn, UC Executive Director of Accessibility for UC's Division of Student Affairs

The Accessibility Network encourages faculty and staff at the University of Cincinnati to participate in creating accessible electronic materials. For those who are new to UC or for those who need to update their training, the eAccessibility Training Course called EIT_02_EACCESSIBILITY: EIT Accessibility Policy, Roles, and Responsibilities Annual Training, is available in Blackboard (please log in to Blackboard before activating the link).

For more information about electronic accessibility, including checklists, tutorials and workshops, please visit the Accessibility Network website. If you would like more information about accessibility training in your area, please email Heidi Pettyjohn.