CHAI Champions for Accessibility and Inclusivity

Joy of learning - Freedom to grow - Benefit of education

This project supports Cal Poly Pomona’s (CPP) long-standing commitment to accessibility. The Champions for Accessibility and Inclusivity (CHAI) project identifies faculty from our eight colleges to serve as a representative in their college for accessibility, inclusivity, and quality assurance. The goal is to promote awareness of 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   

Our proposal aligns with the California State University (CSU) Quality Assurance goals to: 

  • Apply principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), accessibility, and inclusivity 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, accessibility, and inclusivity in all instructional materials.

Champions for Accessibility and Inclusivity

CAFE identified 8 faculty members from each of our colleges to be an “Accessibility Champion:”

  • College of Agriculture
  • 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
  • College of Science

We selected individuals who had previously worked with CAFE around the topics of accessibility, inclusivity, and quality assurance. Each of our designated Accessibility Champions previously demonstrated accessibility, universal design, and quality assurance best practices. Final selections were based on our experience with these individuals and recommendations from the deans of each college, to be the Accessibility Champion for that college.

College Workshops

College Workshops
Beginning November 2020 through April 2021, seventeen workshops were presented by our Champions for Accessibility and Inclusivity (CHAI). The onset of COVID-19 in March of 2020 forced all workshop programming to be virtual.

Workshop attendance remains an issue, though comparatively better than our Accessibility Champion cohort for 2019-2020. From a positive perspective, these workshops have provided faculty with both accessibility and quality assurance awareness and skills to create accessible course content, however; a goal remains to increase the attendance at the workshops whether they occur online or face-to-face.

Positive Participation Response

  • 75% of those replying to survey question agree that information presented at the CHAI workshop they attended was informative and useful
  • 75% felt that attending an CHAI Workshop sparked their interested in accessibility and inclusivity for their courses
  • 75% of those surveyed are using the CPP Blackboard Quality Matters (QM) course template for their courses
  • 75% of those surveyed have used Blackboard Ally to improve the accessibility of their courses.

Cross-tracking Participation
In cross-tracking of college workshop participants with our CAFE project and ticket requests, 62% of the 63 unique participants who have attended a CHAI workshop submitted a ServiceNow ticket for assistance between November 2020 and April 2021.

Our Champions' Own Results

  • All (8) Accessibility Champions achieved Blackboard Ally scores greater of 85% or higher for at least one course, with half being awarded scores of 92% or greater. 
  • All Accessibility Champions completed all requirements of the 2020/2021 CHAI program. 
  • All Accessibility Champions contributed to the Fundamentals of Accessibility eCertificate, currently in development through CAFE. 
  • All Accessibility Champions attended meetings beginning in to discuss progress, issues, and ideas to better implement the program. 
  • 7 of 8 Accessibility Champions nominated the 2021/2022 Accessibility Champion for their college. 
  • Most of our Accessibility Champions sent college outreach messages to their respective college faculty. 
  • Campus-wide interest in accessibility went up due to the implementation of Ally in Canvas courses.

Champions' Activities

The responsibilities of our Accessibility Champions included:

  • Offering accessibility and quality assurance workshops that address each college’s specific concerns. Accessibility Champions could choose amongst the following options to best fit their needs and the needs of their college each semester (Fall 2020 and Spring 2021) all while navigating the situation with COVID:
    • Option 1: One (1) 50-minute Accessibility and one (1) 50-minute Quality Assurance workshop (or combined 1½-2 hours).
    • Option 2: Two-four (2-4) 15-20 minute presentations held during your college's department meetings and creation of two (2) 10-15 minute self-contained, asynchronous instructional videos covering the topics of your choice: Accessibility, Inclusivity, Quality Assurance, etc.
    • Option 3: A combination of the above options. For example: One (1) 50-minute Accessibility/QA workshop, two (2) 15-20 departmental presentations, and one (1) 10-15 minute instructional video.
  • Being a contact person in their college to help other faculty access CAFE’s resources
  • Sending outreach messages regarding accessibility and quality assurance on a regular basis within their colleges
  • Achieving a Blackboard Ally score of 85% or greater for a single course of each Champion’s choosing
  • Providing feedback in the development of CAFE’s Fundamentals of Accessibility eCertificate
  • Attending monthly meetings with other Champions and CAFE staff
  • Seeking out and nominating future Accessibility Champions in their colleges
  • Contributing to campus documentation and publicity surrounding accessibility, inclusivity, and/or quality assurance

CAFE anticipates that being an Accessibility Champion requires at least 30 hours over the academic year, resulting in about three hours per month. More hours may be required if our Champion’s course materials need more work to reach the Ally score of 85%

Support for Champions

CAFE supported the CHAI 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 can customize
  • Campus recognition via outlets such as PolyCentric articles, the CAFE newsletter, Engaging the Digital Student Initiative (EDSI) - Summer Institute June 2021: What’s in a Grade, and other workshop offerings from CAFE
  • CHAI workshops were advertised in multiple editions of CAFE Newsletters.

Development of Campus QA Resources

Quality Matters (QM) template in Canvas: CAFE has created a version of our well-received Blackboard QM template for Canvas. This is provided to all faculty teaching in Canvas and is based on the Quality Matters Rubric – Standards for Course Design. It has been made available for faculty to download from the Canvas Commons.

Fundamentals of Accessibility eCertificate course in Canvas: 
Completed the development, peer review, and migration to new LMS of the Fundamentals of Accessibility eCertificate. This course allows faculty to further develop their understanding and application of accessibility and Universal Design into their courses.

Remote Course Design:
Modules on Exploring Universal Design for Learning and Using Blackboard Ally to Make Your Instructional Materials Accessible were developed by CAFE and included in our Remote Course Design for Summer 2020 and Remote Course Design for Fall 2020 courses. These asynchronous led courses were offered to CPP Faculty as part of the 2020 Summer Professional Development.

CAFE’s Inclusive & Equitable Hybrid & Flipped Course Design Experience: Development of Canvas Course used for the July offering with delivery to more than 400 registrants.   This CAFE-created 3-week bichronous (synchronous & asynchronous) course will focus on strategies for offering hybrid courses. Cal Poly Pomona "hybrid" courses are a blend of face-to-face-in-person and remote learning, whether the remote part is synchronous or asynchronous. We'll emphasize "flipping" the classroom as a productive strategy — offering students structured out-of-class content acquisition, while using precious class time for active learning. Participants will build out their fall classes.  

Words from our Champions

"Serving as the CHAI champion has provided me an opportunity to share the important message about accessibility and inclusivity with the members of my college throughout the year. Providing workshops, resources and support has been rewarding for my own development, as well as knowing I am supporting access for all throughout my college."

"Looking back for me the most inspiring part was an interview that another Champion and I did with a deaf student. Getting to know her as a person, as a student, not only a deaf student/person was enjoyable and fulfilling. Getting to know my students, no matter of the level of their abilities, enables me to truly connect to them and become an effective instructor and mentor to them."


"The CHAI program is truly transformative for me as a faculty. Through learning the well-prepared training materials by the CPP e-Learning team, monthly discussions and sharing with fellow CHAI colleagues, and periodically conducting workshops for faculty and staff on accessibility and quality assurance topics in the college, I was able to see the relationship between the design of the learning environment and the students' learning experience and outcomes in a brand-new light. I am empowered with the learning design theories and best practices. I feel much more confident in making a real difference in students learning through intentional design and implementation of UDL and quality assurance principles that support all learners. Thank you, CHAI!"

"The Champions for Accessibility and Inclusion (CHAI) Program has been transformative. Learning how to better serve students by creating courses and materials that are accessible, inclusive and utilizing a universal design for learning (UDL) make me a better professor. Having intentional strategies and skills to support all students has been rewarding and having the ability to share my new knowledge with colleagues has been worthwhile. CAFE staff have been so wonderful and supportive, and their knowledge is invaluable to all of us! Thank you!"

Project Personnel

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

Supporting Campus Partners:

  • Instructional Designers: 
    • April Dawn
    • Eric Davis
    • Thomas Jenkins
    • Donya Rahimi

Administrative Coordinator:  Carla Tetreault