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Supporting Inclusion Through Initiatives: UIC Hosts Accessibility Liaison Workshop

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In the ever-evolving landscape of higher education, universities strive to foster inclusive environments that cater to the diverse needs of their community. Central to this mission is the commitment to accessibility — ensuring that all students, faculty and staff — regardless of challenges, can fully participate in academic and extracurricular activities.

Accessibility in the university setting is not just a matter of compliance with legal mandates. It is a crucial component of equity, empowering the UIC community to achieve their fullest potential.

At UIC, we believe that embracing and implementing comprehensive accessibility practices can promote diversity and create a more supportive and inclusive academic environment for everyone. The UIC Accessibility Liaison Program aims to enhance our university's commitment to digital accessibility and inclusion. Liaisons are composed of assistant/associate professors,  associate deans, and directors of budget/finance, IT, and communications.

“The role of an Accessibility Liaison is vital in our journey towards creating an accessible and inclusive educational environment,” said Jemma Ku, UIC Director of IT Accessibility. “By participating in this program, liaisons will gain valuable knowledge and contribute significantly to the university's mission of inclusivity,” she said.

Accessibility Liaison Workshop Heading link

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In May, UIC hosted an Accessibility Liaison Workshop at the Richard J. Daley Library, whose purpose and objectives were to train and equip UIC Accessibility Liaisons with the necessary skills and knowledge to promote IT accessibility across the university.

The specific objectives included understanding the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to digital content, identifying common barriers, and learning strategies to enhance accessibility.

Day one included an introduction to the Accessibility Liaison program featuring a keynote speech by Assistant Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Chief Technology Officer Jason Maslanka. Discussions on the role of liaisons, and accessibility standards were followed by a Q&A session.

“Let’s commit to taking the knowledge and insights we gained from this conference back to our organizations and communities. Let’s strive to implement the best practices we learn and advocate for policies that promote digital inclusion,” Maslanka said. “Together, we can make a significant impact and ensure that no one is left behind in this digital age.”

Day two included talks on disability services, digital accessibility services, a technical deep dive, tools and techniques, and a Q&A session. Participants rated the workshop highly, noting the practical demonstrations and interactive Q&A sessions as particularly beneficial.

One of the most valuable aspects of this liaison group is the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals who are passionate about digital accessibility. That is the connective tissue of this group, where a mix of faculty, communications, technology, and other professionals and more.

Jason Maslanka  |  Assistant Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Chief Technology Officer

What is the UIC Accessibility Liaison Program? Heading link

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This program will bridge our current Information and Communications Technology policy and the evolving accessibility standards in higher education to address ADA Title II* changes.

The role of an Accessibility Liaison is vital in our journey towards creating an accessible and inclusive educational environment. By participating in this program, liaisons will gain valuable knowledge and contribute significantly to the university’s mission of inclusivity. Please refer to the UIC Accessibility Liaison Program page for more information.

*On April 24, 2024, the Final Rule was published in the Federal Register. Under the now-finalized ADA Title II regulation, state and local governments with a population of 50,000 or more will have to comply with WCAG 2.1 AA by April 24, 2026. UIC will have until April 26, 2027 to comply.  The Final rule is available at https://www.ada.gov/assets/pdfs/web-rule.pdf

The role of an Accessibility Liaison is vital in our journey towards creating an accessible and inclusive educational environment.

Jemma Ku  |  UIC Director of IT Accessibility

Digital Accessibility Heading link

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As one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse universities in the country, UIC recognizes that our community has a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight and cognitive abilities.

We are committed to ensuring that our IT resources, such as websites, web applications, teaching and learning technologies, digital content and other electronic platforms and related communications can be used by all members of our community.

Do you need help with IT Accessibility? Please use the IT Accessibility Consultation Form to get assistance! (Login with UIC NetID Required.)

Speakers and facilitators included Certified Web Accessibility Professional Dr. Jon Gunderson,  Assistant Vice Chancellor for Innovation & Chief Technology Officer Jason Maslanka, Director of IT Accessibility Jemma Ku, Director of Disability Resources Services, Sophia Hamilton,  ADA Coordinator Peter Berg and IT Accessibility Program Coordinator Michelle Mitchell.