Ensuring Digital Accessibility ‘Is the Right Thing to Do’

As a middle school librarian in the Bronx, Angie Bedford-Jack, digital accessibility coordinator in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), discovered that access to information is one of her core values.

“Accessibility is about people. I don’t do this work because of compliance standards,” she said.

“You have to know those things and do those things, but what drives me is the people piece of it. If your content and websites aren’t accessible, people with disabilities do not have the same access to information that everybody else has.”

A University accessibility policy

In her role at ODI, Bedford-Jack is working with the Office of Policy Development and Management to shepherd forward a digital accessibility policy, which will ensure that anything the University distributes digitally — including websites content, course materials and software — will be accessible. 

There are a number of steps you can take to make sure your website is accessible to all users, including inputting appropriate alt text, writing specific hyperlinks, using correct headers and sub-header styles and making sure your videos have captions or transcripts. 

Check out these and more digital accessibility best practices in University Times.

The policy development process is ongoing and has included a variety of partners, including web services, the University Center for Teaching and LearningDisability Resources and Services and Computing Services and Systems Distribution among others. “I can’t do my work unless I’m working really collaboratively,” said Bedford-Jack.

If approved, the policy will establish the standards for ensuring, maintaining and monitoring the accessibility of digital content so that it complies with all applicable laws and regulations. Accompanying procedures and guidelines create support, systems and processes to help units achieve the goal of meeting the policy. Bedford-Jack said that she expects the policy will be ready to be shared for public comment in the coming weeks.

“Everyone has agreed this is the right thing to do, and we know this is the right thing to do,” said Bedford-Jack.