In an inspiring display of commitment to digital accessibility, the University of Denver hosted its annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) event on May 18th. Aimed at promoting awareness and understanding of digital accessibility challenges faced by individuals with disabilities, the event brought together students, faculty, staff, and community members to foster empathy and inspire change.
Organized by cross-campus partners, the event featured a diverse range of presentations and guests throughout the day. Attendees had the opportunity to listen to keynote speakers, experience live demos, interact with student panelists, and engage in discussions about digital accessibility. Key takeaways from the event highlighted the need for faculty to make materials accessible for all students, regardless of accommodation needs, as well as a culture change around accessible web development and production. It is important for content creators to implement the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines when they are creating and sharing digital information. Practices like heading structures, alternate text, and captions, ensure that digital content is proactively accessible to all users.
Chancellor Haefner offered supportive remarks at the GAAD event, noting “Every user deserves a first-rate digital experience on the web. This is critical for the DU community—especially our students.” He continued, “We promise a holistic, 4D Experience for all our students. Accessibility is integral to that promise. And this is what GAAD is all about: awareness. We want all to feel they belong here at DU. Digital accessibility is one way we ensure that.”
The GAAD event provided a platform for raising awareness and served as a catalyst for collaborative efforts to enhance accessibility. By bringing together individuals from different departments, backgrounds, and disciplines, the event ignited a sense of responsibility to champion the rights of individuals with disabilities and advocate for a more inclusive and accessible DU.
If you could not attend or wish to learn more, please visit the accessibility.du.edu webpage to get started and learn more about the different people and offices who can support you in your digital accessibility journey here at DU. For step-by-step support, please visit the OTL Knowledge Base which includes many resources about digital accessibility for instructional content. Faculty can also visit the OTL’s Inclusive Teaching Modules on the Universal Design for Learning Framework and Disability Pedagogy and Accessibility.
For faculty members who want to learn more about digital accessibility within Canvas or their classroom instruction, please consider scheduling an appointment with the Office of Teaching and Learning’s Accessibility Technologist. For anyone who wishes to receive feedback on the accessibility of their webpage or has other web-based digital accessibility questions, please connect with IT’s Digital Accessibility Specialist. There are many DU resources available to get you started on your digital accessibility journey today!
The GAAD Cross Campus Partners included staff from Community + Values, Division of Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Disability Services Program, Equal Opportunities and Title IX, Human Resources and Inclusive Community, Information Technology, the Office of Teaching and Learning, and a current student.
Thank you to the GAAD Committee Members:
Bill Casson, Information Technology
Josiah Dunn, Information Technology
Ellen Hogan, Office of Teaching & Learning
Clara Kapustka, Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Josh Kaufman, ADA Coordinator, Equal Opportunity & Title IX
Ana Loor Mendoza, Student Representative
Caroline Newcomb, Disability Services Program
Paula von Kretschmann, Human Resources and Inclusive Community
Alex Martinez, Information Technology
Chase McNamee, Community + Values, Office of the Provost