Joy of learning - Freedom to grow - Benefit of education

This project supported Cal Poly Pomona’s (CPP) long-standing commitment to accessibility. The eLearning Accessibility Champions (EACH) project identified faculty from our colleges to serve as a representative in their college for accessibility and quality assurance. The goal was to promote awareness of inclusivity, best practices, and continuous improvement.  

The Accessibility Champions program allowed us to recognize accessibility heroes and to help other faculty become heroes. Our purpose was create a network of empathy, both towards students who benefit from universal design and accessible course materials, and towards faculty who provide those materials.

We consider the joy of learning, the freedom to grow, and the benefit of education to be basic human rights at a university.  Accessibility and high quality instruction are fundamental tools in making these rights a reality.

Campus Goal for Quality Assurance      

We believe that the joy of learning, the freedom to grow, and the benefits of education are basic human rights at a university. Accessibility of course materials and universal design for learning are essential for providing an equitable and inclusive learning environment for all Cal Poly Pomona students.

Our proposal aligned with CSU Quality Assurance goals to: 

  • Apply principles of Universal Design for Learning and accessibility to online courses toward greater success of all students 
  • Create a network of faculty, staff, and administrators informed of the various quality assurance factors, tools, and resources that enable effective online teaching and learning. 

 The Center for Advancement of Faculty Excellence (CAFE), formerly known as eLearning and the Faculty Center for Professional Development, assist faculty in making course materials accessible.  CAFE's  goal is that every faculty member who works with us is introduced to quality assurance principles, receives support for using quality assurance resources for any course format, and is introduced and supported to use best practices for universal design and accessibility in all instructional materials.   

Accessibility Champions

CAFE identified seven faculty members from the Huntley College of Agriculture, the Collins College of Hospitality Management, College of Business, College of Education and Integrative Studies, College of Environmental Design, College of Engineering, College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences, and College of Science.

We selected individuals who had previously worked with our team around the topics of accessibility and quality assurance. All of our first-year Champions had previously demonstrated accessibility, universal design, and quality assurance best practices.  

College Workshops

Beginning November 12th of the 2019 – 2020 academic year, fourteen workshops were presented by eLearning Accessibility Champions (EACH). The onset of COVID-19 in March 2020 greatly affected the workshop programming that had been planned for the spring semester.   One faculty Champion opted to continue with their workshops and hosted two online.

Workshop attendance remains an issue with 25 registrants, and 17 attendees. From a positive perspective, these workshops have provided 17 more faculty with both accessibility and quality assurance awareness and skills to create accessible course content. However we do need to increase participation whether workshops occur online or face-to-face. We have had increased participation due to a series of "Making Accessible Course Documents" online workshops offered during COVID-19 (April - May).

The positive aspect is that the participant response to the workshops was strong:

•    83% of those replying to survey question strongly agree that information presented at the EACH workshop they attended was informative and useful

•    83% felt that attending an EACH Workshop sparked their interested in accessibility and inclusivity for their courses

•    67% of those surveyed are using the CPP Blackboard Quality Matters (QM) course template for their courses

•    67% of those surveyed have used Blackboard Ally to improve the accessibility of their courses.

•    50% of those who responded to our survey felt that disseminating the information to all faculty was important

•    25% of those who responded to our survey felt that college specific workshops were important

•    25% of those who responded to our survey felt that the delivery methods for the EACH workshops (online vs f2f) did not matter

•    Some accessibility practices adopted by participants included the use of alt text, headers in documents, making accessible PowerPoint presentations, adopting the Quality Matters template, having Blackboard Ally turned on within their course, and creating an accessible syllabus

In addition, 56% of the faculty who attended an eLearning Accessibility Champion workshop submitted tickets for assistance between November and June 24th. 48 tickets in all were submitted.

Champions' Activities

Our Champions were asked to: 

  1. Offer at least one college-based accessibility workshop and one college based quality assurance workshop per semester that address the college’s specific concerns 
  2. Be a contact person in their college to help other faculty access CAFE  resources
  3. Send outreach messages regarding accessibility and quality assurance on a regular basis within their colleges, 
  4. Seek out and nominate future Accessibility Champions in their colleges
  5. Contribute to campus documentation and publicity surrounding accessibility and/or quality assurance. 

Serving as an Accessibility Champion required about 30 hours over the academic year, or about three hours per month.

Support for Champions

CAFE supported the EACH project by providing: 

  • Enhanced student assistance and instructional design support for any of their classes
  • Train-the-trainer and logistical support for the college-based workshops
  • Outreach messages that Champions customized
  • Publicity and campus recognition via outlets such as PolyCentric articles, the eLearning newsletter, and the eLearning Summer Institute 2020.  

EACH workshops were advertised in multiple editions of the eLearning and Faculty Center Newsletters beginning with Volume 12, October – November.

Engaging the Digital Student Summer Institute

Modules on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Making Materials Accessible: Contributing to Competence were developed for the Engaging the Digital Student Initiative Summer Institute 2020.

UDL principles were mapped to the motivational principles of inclusion, attitude, competence, and meaning based on the motivational framework found in Margery Ginsberg’s Enhancing Adult Motivation to Learn.

Our module on accessibility covered instruction for making PPT presentations, Word, and PDF documents accessible. Faculty were asked to run Ally reports and improve their scores.

Our Champions' Own Results

•    All 7 Accessibility Champions achieved Blackboard Ally scores greater of 87% or higher for at least one course, and four had scores of 94% or greater

•    6 out of 7 of our Champions completed all requirements of the 2019/2020 EACH program

•    All of our Champions contributed to the Fundamentals of Accessibility eCertificate, currently in development through CAFE

•    All of our Champions attended meetings beginning in to discuss progress, issues, and ideas to better implement the program

•    All of our Champions sent college outreach messages to their respective college faculty

•    Five of seven Champions have already nominated the 2020/2021 Accessibility Champion for their college

•    Five of seven Champions assisted with accessibility during synchronous meetings for Cal Poly’s Spring (Beta) Remote Course Design initiative 

•    Campus wide interest in accessibility has risen due to the implementation of ALLY in Blackboard courses.

Words from our Champions

“I applaud the choice of the initiative name and the meaning it conveys.”

“I am SO excited about this opportunity. Yes, I am totally in!”

“…I am excited to learn from the experts and share with more colleagues at our college and try to meet the needs of all our students!”

Project Personnel

Campus QA Lead: Victoria Bhavsar, Director of the Center for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence (CAFE)

Instructional Designers: April Dawn, Eric Davis, Thomas Jenkins, and Donya Rahimi