John Lawrence’s message from Jan. 29, 2018
Check the fine print on ISU Extension and Outreach educational materials and you’ll find a nondiscrimination statement (also known as the justice statement). We include it because it’s required by federal regulation, but more important, we want our clients to know we’re committed to equal opportunity and equal access to our programs and activities. However, a statement in fine print is only a small first step. Now ISU Extension and Outreach is taking a giant leap forward to make sure our digital documents are available and accessible to all. Our clients may or may not have visual, auditory, motor or cognitive disabilities; so we want to make sure our digital materials can be easily navigated and understood by everyone. And we’re committing $111,000 to the effort. Did you know?
- Our learners are diverse. They vary in capabilities, needs and aspirations. Universal design considers their needs, respects their contributions and includes as many people as possible. Digital resources that incorporate universal design can be used by a wide spectrum of potential online visitors, rather than only by an ideal (and nonexistent) average user.
- Extension Information Technology, Professional Development and Advancement are creating professional development opportunities to help staff learn how to make their digital documents accessible, whether they are sharing their documents on the Extension Store, on websites or via email. The team is working on a variety of formats, such as webinars, face-to-face and self-guided courses – because we’re not average users, either.
- First, the team will work with staff who submit publications to the store in InDesign. Second, they’ll be hiring students to help remediate existing publications on the store. Third, they’ll help educate web content editors on Microsoft Office products and the accessibility needs related to the software. Finally, they’ll offer professional development to all ISU Extension and Outreach staff.
- For more information on this Digital Universal Design Compliance Project, contact Robin Brekke in Professional Development, Kristi Elmore in Extension IT or Chris Johnsen with the Extension Store.
Our accessibility efforts aren’t limited to digital documents. We’re also working to improve the accessibility of our videos and webpages, as well as web conferences, live streaming events and online courses. Because when we design for all, we increase our chances of justice for all.
A couple more notes
- The Excellence in Extension grant application deadline is Feb. 1.
- Friends of Extension award nominations are due by close of business Feb. 2. For more information, contact Jerry Chizek, firstname.lastname@example.org.
— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Interim Vice President for Extension and Outreach