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Global Accessibility Awareness Day
at Blackboard

GAAD Follow-the-Sun Webinar Series

May 17th | 9 sessions in different time zones

Choose your sessions and:

A day to think, talk and learn about inclusive education and digital access.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day started in 2012 with the purpose to get everyone thinking, sharing best practices and learning about digital access and people with different disabilities.

The target audience of GAAD is the design, development, usability, and related communities who build, shape, fund and influence technology and its use. While people may be interested in the topic of making technology accessible and usable by persons with disabilities, the reality is that they often do not know how or where to start. Awareness comes first."

Blackboard is fully committed to delivering product experiences that conform to the highest levels of global accessibility standards. We know that a mature digital accessibility program must establish a sustainable organizational culture around accessibility.

On Global Accessibility Awareness Day we host a "follow-the-sun" series of webinar about accessibility in education at all levels and all across the globe. Come join us!

Want to learn more?

Visit the Global Accessibility Awareness Day website and understand the history behind the date.

Learn about Blackboard's commitment to accessibility.

Can't attend?

Don't worry. Register anyway and we'll make sure to send you the session recordings.

About the Sessions

12:30pm AEST

Session 1:
Creating an inclusive and accessible learning experience for all

Dr Paul Harpur, Senior Lecturer at The University of Queensland

It’s not often you have the opportunity to explore inclusive and accessible learning from an academic’s perspective. To mark Global Accessibility Awareness Day, senior university lecturer Dr Paul Harpur will tell his story as he reflects on his own teaching and learning experiences. Dr Harpur strives for a better learning environment for all learners and believes this is a great opportunity to share his thoughts and experiences of working towards an equitable learning experience. In his most recent monograph, his core thesis is that technology now creates the possibility that everyone in the world, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, should be able to access the written word. Mark Bailye from Blackboard will facilitate this interactive session as Dr Harpur shares his reflections and insights. We invite you to interact, ask questions and engage with Dr Harpur around the pitfalls and successes of creating inclusive and accessible learning experiences for all.

11:00am BST

Session 2:
Accessibility: EU Standards and Teaching Excellence

Robert McLaren, Manager, Assistive Technology Policy, PolicyConnect

The profile of accessibility and inclusive practice in higher education is growing rapidly. This webinar sets out the policy context for the present movement toward accessibility for all. Universities and colleges have begun to strengthen their practice in this area, in response to both regulations and positive incentives to improve the quality of the courses they provide. In the UK context, the Equality Act (2010), serves as the major accessibility regulation and that is set to be complemented by the EU Web Accessibility Directive, coming into law in September. Meanwhile, university rankings and ratings, including the UK government's Teaching Excellence Framework, have rewarded accessibility and inclusive practice.

1:00pm BST

Session 3:
An Ally for Inclusive Derby

Claire Gardener, Senior Learning Technology Adviser, University of Derby
Laura Hollinshead, Learning Technologist (Curriculum Development), University of Derby

This presentation will provide an overview of the contribution made by the Technology Enhanced Learning team in the Inclusive Derby initiative at the University of Derby. It will outline the challenges we faced to raise awareness of how technology supports inclusive learning and teaching practices as well as how we tried to move the dialogue beyond changes to DSA funding to all areas of inclusive practice. Join us to learn about the technological enhancements the University of Derby has made to improve the accessibility of Blackboard for all users. This includes the introduction of Blackboard Ally, ATBar and ReadSpeaker. The presentation will cover in detail our implementation of Blackboard Ally and will discuss the challenges and opportunities that have arisen.

9:00am EDT

Session 4:
Accessibility Journey at University of Cincinnati

Heidi Pettyjohn, Director Strategic Priorities, University of Cincinnati
Dave Rathbun, Instructional Technologist, University of Cincinnati

As the University of Cincinnati began its journey toward compliance in EIT Accessibility, leadership made the intentional decision to invest in resources throughout the institution and to set the expectation of a shared responsibility. After an initial focus on education and awareness, the Accessibility Network focused the 2017-2018 school year on identifying existing structures and processes with which to align accessibility priorities, and in doing so, engaged champions and early adopters around campus. Members of the network will share stories and strategies on providing tools and education through involvement on strategic eLearning and university initiatives to understand how accessibility fits into the work that they do, and guide them in setting their own goals and priorities around accessibility.

11:00am EDT

Session 5:
Don't Grab Me! Proper etiquette for interacting with persons with disabilities

Elizabeth Simister, Senior Technical Project Manager, Blackboard
Heidi Jungel, Senior Software Engineer, Blackboard
D’Anthony White, Public Relations Manager, Blackboard

Ever seen a person with a disability appear lost and want to grab them or pet a cute service animal? While you just want to help, don’t grab them! Inclusive education includes inclusive interactions. This webinar uncovers common misconceptions and shares proper etiquette for interacting with persons with disabilities and service animals.

1:00pm EDT

Session 6:
Universal Design for Learning at CSU

Brett Christie, Ph.D., Director of Quality Learning and Teaching, CSU Office of the Chancellor

This presentation will feature outcomes of California State University (CSU), Universal Design for Learning (UDL) efforts, which began in 2005. At the core of this effort is professional development that provides faculty and staff the support and training necessary to ensure that students with disabilities are provided a high quality postsecondary education. Framing our work around the principles of Universal Design for Learning and the formation of Faculty Learning Communities, our seven partner campuses impacted over 3,100 students with and without disabilities. As an increasingly prominent pedagogical strategy, Universal Design for Learning offers faculty a framework to consider teaching practices in support of student achievement. This session will provide an overview of the CSU UDL implementation process, resources developed, and outcomes on the success of students, with and without disabilities. All resources are available online via Creative Commons license at the UDL Universe website, with a site orientation provided to participants.

3:00pm CLT

Session 7 (Sesión en español):
El uso de la tecnología para expandir el acceso a la educación en Latinoamérica (Using technology to expand access to education across Latin America)

Cristian Jaramillo, Director de Educación a Distancia, IPLACEX
Alvaro Leiva, Director de Asuntos Estudiantiles, IPLACEX
Verónica Águila, Directora de Educación Inclusiva, Andrés Bello University
Paola Olivares, Jefa de Diseño Instruccional, Andrés Bello University
Minerva Carrizo, Solutions Engineer, Blackboard

Hear from two top higher education institutions about their solutions to the need for inclusive education and digital access. Instituto Profesional Latinoamericano de Comercio Exterior (Iplacex) and Andrés Bello University share the steps they are taking to improve access to education for their students and across the region.

6:00pm EDT

Session 8:
The Landscape of Accessibility: ADA Requirements

Lewis E. Kraus, Deputy Director of the Center on Disability at PHI and the DBTAC: Pacific ADA Center

Passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act was just one step on the journey toward inclusivity. The webinar discusses the current landscape of regulations and support for persons with disabilities and where we are headed next in education and employment.

5:00pm EDT

Session 9:
Accessibility Matters

Building and focusing on accessibility standards within online course design is an imperative. Supporting student's learning must be the overall focus, but designing courses that are flexible and emphasize the students preference in learning should not be overlooked. If done properly, accessibility concerns will be minimized, and all students will benefit from quality course design. Participants of this session will learn from teachers at the Davidson Institute, a school for the profoundly gifted that educate students in both brick and mortar and online environments.


Brett Christie

Ph.D., Director of Quality Learning and Teaching, CSU Office of the Chancellor

Brett Christie, Ph.D. serves as Director of Quality Learning and Teaching for Academic Technology Service. Prior to this position, he worked as Director of Faculty Development at Sonoma State University for 7 years, bringing over 20 years of teaching experience in Educational Technology, Teacher Education and Kinesiology. Brett also provided leadership for multiple state and national projects (USDoE, NSF) focused on faculty development opportunities, effective and innovative uses of instructional technology, and supporting the greatest number and diversity of students. A cornerstone of many of these efforts has been leading faculty and staff development in Universal Design for Learning and the development of the UDL-Universe resource portal. Most recently, Brett has led the development and implementation of the CSU Quality Learning & Teaching (QLT) program, enabling more effective blended-online teaching and learning in the CSU.

Lewis E. Kraus

Deputy Director of the Center on Disability at PHI and the DBTAC: Pacific ADA CenterADA Pacific

Lewis E. Kraus, MPH, MCP, is the deputy director of the Center on Disability at PHI and the DBTAC: Pacific ADA Center. Kraus is also the director of training and dissemination for the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center for Personal Assistance Services at the University of California, San Francisco. He leads the research effort to determine the applicability of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Community Guide to Prevention and also heads the annual evaluation of the federally funded Family Center on Technology and Disability. He has conducted policy research into personal assistance services (PAS) in the workplace in the United States and is investigating the implementation of PAS in emergency preparedness shelters.

Dr. Paul Harpur

Senior Lecturer at The University of Queensland

Dr. Harpur's research and teaching expertise are in the areas of disability rights, anti-discrimination laws, work health and safety laws and corporate social responsibility. Dr Harpur has a mixture of practice and research experience, having formerly practiced as a lawyer and continuing to work as an industrial relations special advisor in a private practice. Dr Harpur is the author of: Paul Harpur, Discrimination, Copyright and Equality: Opening the Ebook for the Print Disabled (2017) , Cambridge University Press.

For more information on Dr Paul Harpur click here.

Robert McLaren

Manager, Assistive Technology Policy, PolicyConnect

Robert McLaren is the manager of the Assistive Technology Policy group and Policy Connect. Before joining Policy Connect, Robert worked within the Assistive Technology sector providing technology training and study skills tuition to disabled people in universities and the workplace, and consultancy services for organisations in the sector. Robert holds a BA(Hons) degree in Philosophy from King's College London and a PGC in Teaching Adults with Specific Learning Difficulties from London Metropolitan University. He is dyslexic and was first introduced to assistive technology when he received a Disabled Student's Allowance as an undergraduate.

Claire Gardener

Senior Learning Technology Adviser, University of Derby

Claire Gardener is Senior Learning Technology Adviser at the University of Derby. In her role, she leads the Learning Technology Team who encourage and enable the academic staff to adopt appropriate technologies to enhance the student learning experience. She has been working in Learning Technology since 2001, in both Higher and Further Education. Claire joined the Technology Enhanced Learning team at the University of Derby in April 2015, prior to this she was a Learning Technologist at Stoke on Trent College. Claire has extensive experience in supporting staff using a range of VLEs, classroom and mobile technology.

Laura Hollinshead

Learning Technologist (Curriculum Development), University of Derby

Laura Hollinshead is a Learning Technologist at the University of Derby in the College of Health and Social Care. In her role she assists academic staff to use technologies within their teaching practice. She previously held a similar position at Nottingham Trent University. Laura is an expert in the theory and practice of technology-enhanced learning with a particular interest in accessibility and learning technologies, social media for collaborative learning, technologies supporting employability, and creative forms of Assessment and feedback. Laura is currently working towards a Masters in Online and Distance Education with the Open University. Studying this qualification has helped her developed a better understanding of how technologies can engage learners and have a positive impact on the whole learning experience.

Heidi Pettyjohn

Director Strategic Priorities, University of Cincinnati

Heidi Pettyjohn is the Interim EIT Accessibility Coordinator and Director of Strategic Priorities for the Division of Student Affairs at the University of Cincinnati. In her role, Heidi provides oversight and coordination of compliance efforts pertaining to the accessibility of content provided through the university’s web and eLearning platforms. She also co-chairs the Accessibility Network, a cross-functional group of staff and faculty working to build the capacity of the institution around electronic accessibility.

Dave Rathbun

Instructional Technologist, University of Cincinnati

Dave Rathbun is an Instructional Technologist and Blackboard Certified Trainer in the Center for Excellence in eLearning at the University of Cincinnati. In his role, Dave works in close collaboration with constituent groups across the university to design meaningful learning experiences through the implementation of dynamic, engaging, and student-centric instructional technologies. He was an earlier member of the Accessibility Network - a cross-functional and interdisciplinary team actively working to create a learning environment accessible to all learners - and serves as the co-chair of the Captioning Project Team.

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