University of Cincinnati (UC) prides themselves on their commitment to inclusion. After initiating their accessibility program four years prior, they partnered with Level Access to pursue new levels of sustainability and adoption across campus. Today, UC has grown from enforcing compliance to fostering a culture of inclusion, where accessibility standards are communicated, supported, and reinforced throughout the university and academic colleges.
A Curriculum for Accessibility Success
“While accessibility is not a ‘101 course’, the basics of becoming accessible are no secret,” says Heidi Pettyjohn, Executive Director of UC’s Office of Institutional Accessibility. “The secret to sustainability, though, lies in motivating and empowering other teams to incorporate accessibility best practices into their daily routines.”
Pettyjohn leads UC’s Accessibility Network—a dedicated group of accessibility experts spread throughout the university’s colleges and departments. These embedded experts educate and empower each department to operate independently within accessibility standards. Equipped with Level Access’s AMP solution to centrally monitor accessibility testing and training, the Network is increasing consistency and compliance at a university-wide scale.
“AMP is enabling us to build a self-service culture and spread a shared sense of ownership for accessibility across our colleges,” adds Amanda Calvert, UC’s IT Accessibility Program Director. Hosting over 100 divisional websites with nearly 110,000 monthly visits to content optimized for people with disabilities, UC teams now assess and address accessibility issues firsthand within the shared AMP platform—providing Pettyjohn centralized oversight of the university’s state of inclusion. This deployment of knowledge and tools via the Accessibility Network is a key factor in UC’s maturity and success.
“Level Access is helping take our accessibility program to the next level: sustainability.”
– Heidi Pettyjohn | Executive Director, Office of Institutional Accessibility
UC has standardized accessibility testing across 100+ divisional websites.
Graduating from Good to Great
“Level Access is also helping make our accessibility program more sustainable,” adds Calvert, “by providing a centralized solution for consistency, education, and self-service.”
UC product owners, testers, and developers all test within AMP. “Our developers use Continuum to ensure accessibility when developing new tools. The Quality Assurance (QA) team keeps all manual and automated test results centralized in AMP. We have automated scans routinely auditing our live sites.” With Level Access tools and training, UC’s accessibility standards are better understood and more easily adopted by everyone.
“Adoption has been great but fostering a true culture of inclusion is our long game!” notes Pettyjohn. “We started in 2016 by educating leadership on accessibility and the needs of students with disabilities. Now, we’re educating and empowering the entire community: faculty, staff, and even student leaders.”
Spreading the Knowledge
UC proudly provides ongoing education about the digital needs of people with disabilities to all its constituents. The Network is opening the Level Access library of online training tools to everyone who produces content for UC’s websites. UC faculty and staff engage in an annual Digital Inclusion Day, regular diversity training, and inclusion content within mandatory trainings. Many university faculty have even added accessibility lessons to course curriculums and require student assignments to meet today’s compliance standards. With persistence, consistency, and support, UC is establishing accessibility as a shared standard and criterion for ongoing success.
“Accessibility is everyone’s responsibility at University of Cincinnati,” adds Calvert. “We depend on our entire campus to take ownership. Our university-wide commitment and community are keys to the success of our accessibility program.”