Student Engagement and Inclusive Campus Environments – From Magical Thinking to Strategy and Intentionality

Presenter:  Professor Shaun R. Harper, Ph.D, University of Pennsylvania

@DrShaunHarper | #CSUNmagic | Terry Piper Lecture Series | Organizing Committee Members

This is the fourth annual event for the Terry Piper Lecture Series.  Previous speakers have included Dr. Laura Rendon, Dr. Vincent Tinto, and Dr. Marcia Baxter-Magolda.  I personally had the pleasure of reporting directly to Dr. Terry Piper when I started working at CSUN back in 2006.  I make sure to attend this event every year.

“Change is inevitable, progress is optional” – Dr. Terry Piper

Started faculty career at USC, and talked briefly about his relationship with Dr. Brandon Martin and Debra Hammond.  Before becoming a faculty member, Shaun was involved with Student Affairs and credits Debra’s leadership as a major inspiration to him.  While Shaun did not know Terry,  he acknowledged his work (“I feel as if I knew him based on legacy”).

Student success requires a lot from a university – it doesn’t happen out of thin air.

Some Common Occurrences of Magical Thinking Assumptions

  • The assumption that powerful educational outcomes will be automatically manufactured through student-initiated engagement with peers who are different.
  • More racial diversity = increased sense of belonging for students of color
  • The curriculum will diversify itself
  • Students will engage themselves
  • All 40,000+ CSUN undergraduates will be learned persons who are prepared for a democratic society
  • Students will confront their own biases

Dr. Harper and his graduate students did a content study of mission statements of universities with enrollments over 20,000 students. They made some interesting promises, i.e. students will be prepared for a global economy, ready for a diverse and inclusive workforce, etc.  The reality is that cultural barriers put student groups on the fringe of the university experience.

Diversity is often reflected in the student body, but this is not sufficient.  It needs to be reflected across the institution.  However, we see cultural clustering that effectively perpetuates racial segregation.  If students do not feel substantively engaged, they leave.  This can produce “accidental” racists, sexists, and homophobes.  Universities are often the most guilty institutions in perpetuating these attitudes.  Overwhelmingly, these attitudes are from men.

Dr. Harper shared some learning from his work:

  • Deliberate strategies that bring principles of good educational practice to fruition on college and university campuses.
  • Individual and Collective Reflection:  What am I doing to involve all students equitably?  When was the last time I read about these principles and intentionally attempted to implement them.
  • Remediation.  Deficits are not all the students’!  It’s completely possible to become an educator without ever teaching students.  We’re now four year into a study, the race and student affairs project.  What have we learned?  People learned in their student dev theory course about a racial identity model from the early 1970s!  It doesn’t teach how to deal with racial inequity issues.
  • Literacy.  You must read to keep up with developments within the field.  I often have people come up to me and tell me that they can’t read because they don’t have the time to.  This is not intentionality!
  • Collaboration with students
  • Cross-sectional partnerships
  • An actionable written document.  So many campuses do not have this.
  • Assessment.  How do you measure success?

Intentionality Examples

  • The professor who does not wait for the one Native American student in his class to approach him about research opportunities, but instead invites her to have a conversation about how their mutual interests might be collaboratively pursued via a research project.
  •  The academic advisor who asks commuter and part-time students how they would prefer to receive information about engagement opportunities, then communicates this information in a systematic way to the campus activities office and later checks the database to ensure her advisees are receiving info in ways they requested.
  •  The office or department leader that predetermines with colleagues who will attend which sessions at a conference, insists everyone takes copious notes, provides time during the next staff meeting to recap and collectively determine adaptability of ideas from sessions, and then signs reimbursements.

Real-World Examples from the Study

The Lumina Foundation provided a grant to work with 5 institutions to do something about enhancing and improving Black Male success – Institutional Change for Black Male Student Success Project.  Those campuses were:  UCLA, Stanford, University of Wisconsin, Community Colleges of Philadelphia, North Carolina Central University.  Teams from each university had to include:  two tenured faculty, at least one cabinet member, at least two students (black undergraduate men).  These teams created the ingredients/artifacts of the intentionality and strategies mentioned above, and then took them back to their home campuses.

At UCLA, their opportunity was to address the low first-to-second year black male retention rates, plus campus size and experiences with racial stereotypes.  The team included tenured faculty, senior admins from academic affairs and student affairs, grad students, staff from various student support services across campus, and black students.  Key components:  bringing resources to black male students (“blacklimated”).  Increased social and cultural capital via “deans day” where students could sit with their deans (deans actually gave out cell phone numbers).  Stereotype threat strategizing:  role of grad students was that they shared their experiences for effectively responding to issues (i.e. microagressions).  Introducing black male students to their first/only black male professor.  Result:  across 3 cohorts of 77 students, all but one returned to UCLA for a sophomore year.

North Carolina Central University opportunity:  black male six year graduation rate was 27 percent.  Disaggregated data showed that honors students that received additional support were most successful, and black male students who received 2.7 GPA in high school were least likely to persist.  VPSA, tenured faculty members, black undergraduates.  Key Components:  strategic “scholar” languaging (call them “Centennial Scholars”).  Apply what works for honors students to the Centennial Scholars.  Residential learning community with centralized support, RAs, and resources just for them (also moved into super-shiny residence halls like the honors students).  Result:  across 3 cohorts of 90 undergraduates, only two students left before completing their bachelor’s degrees.

Each institution received only $20,000 to accomplish these results!

Post Script:  Black Male initiatives are in vogue right now, and this I think is dangerously close to a form of “magical thinking.”




The 2015 CSUN Mega Post

Hey there!

When I come to the CSUN conference, I write about every session I attend.  When I’m all done with the conference, I make sure I gather up all my posts into one <echo>MEGA POST</echo>.  In the past, I felt strongly pulled toward the more technical web track sessions, because I run a web development shop.  This year, I sprinkled in some legal and compliance sessions, because the technical stuff doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  That, and I find myself being asked to weigh in on accessibility concerns in senior-level conversations more frequently these days.

I may be a glutton for punishment, but whenever I attend a busy conference that has lots of concurrent sessions throughout the day, I try to attend as many as I can…with no breaks in between.  This year, I got to 18 sessions, and it was pretty tiring.  I think it matters that I get the most “bang for the buck” for attending, and it’s important that I don’t keep what I learn all to myself.  So I take notes.  A LOT OF NOTES.  This helps me stay focused when my mind starts to wander, and it may be useful to others.

I hope you find it useful.

Wednesday, March 4 Session Notes

  1. The Implementation of PDF/UA and Standardized Access to PDF Content
  2. Digital Accessibility: 2015 Annual Legal Update
  3. Accessibility at the BBC
  4. Do We Need to Changes the Web Accessibility Game Plan (Redux)?
  5. Real-Time Conversations:  From TTY to Real-Time Text (RTT)
  6. Aiming for Excellence at a Fortune 50 Company (aka TARGET)

Thursday, March 5 Session Notes

  1. CSS, Accessibility and You
  2. Scaling Web Accessibility From Specialist Niche to Business-As-Usual
  3. Web Compliance Evaluation Strategies – All In One
  4. Accessibility in the Web Project Lifecycle
  5. Accessibility in an Agile World
  6. Revised Maturity Model: Case Study of the CIA

Friday, March 6 Session Notes

  1. Choosing an Accessible UI Framework
  2. Evaluating the Accessibility of Your Website:  New Resources and Tools
  3. 7 Lessons from Developing an Accessible HTML5 Video Player
  4. The Digital Accessibility Maturity Model for Measuring Program Success
  5. A Digitally Inclusive Future for Canada’s National Broadcaster
  6. Purchasing Accessible EIT Products:  A Suggested Campus Procurement Process

Purchasing Accessible EIT Products: A Suggested Campus Procurement Process

Presenters:  Cheryl Pruitt and Dawn Futrell from California State University, CSU Office of the Chancellor, Tom Siechert from California State University, Fresno, Susan Cullen from California State University, Northridge

@seichert | @cullensus

This was my sixth session and final session at the CSUN conference on Friday, March 6.  Showing some love to my CSU people before heading home.   I should be able to avoid some of the San Diego – Los Angeles traffic, but not all of it :-(  Anyway, procurement is a great place to start when ensuring that you’re meeting accessibility requirements; the CSU has made a commitment to ensuring that everything it buys is accessible.

Controlling Purchasing can be a Daunting Task

  • Implementing accessibility into the purchasing process for a 23-campus system is tough…
  • Every campus implements accessible procurement differently:  different forms, processes and evaluation techniques
  • We Wanted to Break Down the Problem
  • Document the process that can be adopted and adapted by every campus
  • Expectations:  buy the most accessibile products, create a plan for providing accommodations, promote a culture of accessibility, institution wide ever, speak with one voice
  • We have 7 people/campuses on the ATI standardization team

Findings and recommendations

  • Keys to implementing accessible procurement:  strong sustainable executive level support, roles and responsibilities, shared responsibility across the campus
  • It’s not JUST an ATI process or JUST a procurement process
  • Roles:  ATI designee or other designees, purchase requester, admin support staff, buyer, vendor, IT support staff, disability services staff, executive sponsor

4-step Process for Campuses

Documentation of the steps below can be found here:

  1. Gather information
  2. Review information
  3. Review product
  4. Place order

Equally Effective Alternative Access Process (aka “EEAAP”)

  • Sometimes a product cannot meet everyone’s needs.  The EEAAP is how accommodations will be met for people who cannot be served by the product.


  • Reqs often don’t include critical info:  what are we buying, how will it be used, who will use it, end users reqd to use product, what are future plans for product use
  • Need for speed (RUSH orders)
  • Large numbers of IT purchases
  • Over 1,600 IT items in 2014 were ordered!  About 203 were reviewed for a11y
  • Of those 203, almost 100 were for “smart classrooms,” 44 were for Multi Function Devices, 54 were for departments and colleges, 8 were for students

Procurement + Accessibility

  • Integrate accessibility into the existing procurement process
  • Integration types:  one-size fits all (aka shotgun approach)
  • Impact-based process and intelligent workflow

Review Process

  • Minimum reqs:  needs to work for both reactive and proactive review requests, and needs to work regardless of funding source (i.e. gifts, auxiliaries, etc.)
  • Successful adoption:  easy for end-users, isn’t heavy
  • Tom reviewed a workflow diagram and the CSU online requisition form

Campus Impact Policy – We’re Moving Away from Dollar Thresholds When Reviewing

  • Litigation does not consider product $ amount or if it is free
  • Consideration of level of accessibility and business need
  • We do a functional analysis to determine the overall value of the product.  Sometimes the most accessible product is not the best one.
  • Targeted:  software, applications, devices, copy-scan-fax
  • Not targeted:  servers, security systems, wires & plugs, software for individuals
  • The big cultural change is that people need to start thinking about this when they start thinking about buying the product

Language is the Key to Communications

We need to make sure that the language we’re using makes sense to people who just want to make the right choices.

  • 1194.21 & 22 = modern web applications, software
  • 1194.24 = video, multimedia, YouTube
  • 1194.25 = iPads, Phones, Copy-Scan-fax
  • 1194.31 = usable to individuals with different abilities
  • 1194.41 = documentation for use for individuals with different abilities

Campus Department Requests

  • Bulk purchase and commonly purchased items (i.e. Dell, HP, Lenovo computers)
  • VPAT forms

Universal Design Center Evaluation Categories

  • Alt Descriptions
  • Multimedia
  • Structure
  • Comprehensive Visual Display
  • User Interface
  • Navigation




A Digitally Inclusive Future for Canada’s National Broadcaster

Presenters:  Patrick Dunphy accessibility specialist from the CBC

@PatrickDunphy | Co-lead #a11yTO with George Zamfir (@goodwally) and Billy Gregory (@thebillygregory)

This was my fifth session at the CSUN conference on Friday, March 6.  I’m always interested in hearing about how very large – particularly media companies – approach their accessibility remediation efforts.

What is CBC?

  • We’re a publicly funded Canadian radio, tv, online

2020 Strategy

  • Intensify relationship with citizens with disabilities
  • 13.7% of Canadians self-identify as having a disability (3.8 million)
  • However, no captions for recent olympic coverage
  • Silver tsunami is coming…

We’ve Been Busy!

  • Launched to gather feedback on what’s wrong
  • GAAD:  Global Accessibility Awareness Day
  • 4-part learning series
  • Accessibility inquiry form for intake
  • Developing an internal knowledge base (Confluence)
  • Accessibility task force (July 2014) got everyone involved:  IA, design, SME, QA, PM, Apps, Architect, Content, UX, management
  • Jumped into agile in a big way (which was not without it’s bumps)

In October 2014, We Committed to a 4-year Rollout Plan

  • We will make our digital content meet WCAG 2.0 AA standards by April 2018.  Digital operations is leading this effort, with 8 product teams using agile methodology.
  • We completed a gap analysis with The Paciello Group
  • Identified training needs
  • WCAG2.0 training for devs, designers, and QA analysts
  • Accessibility requirements identified for 3rd party vendors

Gap Analysis

  • Task force meets weekly
  • First, we reviewed 25 screens across CBC, CBCNews, CBCSports, CBCRadio, Network
  • Summary of gap analysis identified a range of issues likely to significantly affect the ability to interact with; lots of work had been done, and moderate level of effort would be required to get it up to scratch.
  • Screen reader training

Learning & Development Initiatives

  • Lots of checkpoints to think about what we want to get to, and narrowed it down into what was feasible
  • Onboarding process
  • Q&A webinars
  • Moderated forums
  • Printable cheat sheets
  • Code samples
  • Bi-annual training
  • External assistance




The Digital Accessibility Maturity Model for Measuring Program Success

Presenters:  Tim Springer and Jason Megginson from the SSB BART Group

@SSBBARTgroup | View this slide deck online

This was my fourth session at the CSUN conference on Friday, March 6.  The CIA’s session yesterday referred to a different maturity model (the Business Disability Forum’s Accessibility Maturity Model), which piqued my interest and is why I’m here.  I’m beginning to think that the tagline for this conference should be “There’s a session for that.”

What the hell is a maturity model?

  • Defines organizational maturity level in addressing a business problem.
  • DAMM (Digital Accessibility Maturity Model) measures digital accessibility program maturity along a series of dimensions and aspects, to assign them to particular levels

The Digital Accessibility Maturity Model

  • The five levels of DAMM
  • Initial (chaos)
  • Managed (pockets of expertise across the enterprise)
  • Defined (across the enterprise)
  • Quantitatively Managed (repeatable, metrics lead change)
  • Optimizing (reflective, feedback system)
  • DAMM is not a roadmap, but an ongoing business process
  • More maturity != greater conformance
  • Other models require that you must reach a higher level of compliance to achieve a higher CMM level
  • A mature org with a clear grasp of digital accessibility concepts may determine not to conform to a higher level of accessibility

Why a CMM based Maturity Model?

CMM model process improvement adds value to other business areas:

  • Fewer defects
  • Better on-time delivery
  • More likely to be on budget
  • Increased Quality Software Management Productivity Index

There are 10 DAMM Dimensions…

1. GRC (Governance, Risk, Compliance)

  • Looking for higher levels of organizational ownership
  • Aspects:  organizational ownership, governance policy, risk management, compliance program, accessibility program office, monitoring, reporting, record keeping
  • Artifacts:  Org chart, accessibility monitoring plan, accessibility program roles and responsibilities, accessibility project management plan, risk prioritization model, accessibility coverage questionnaire

2. Communication

  • Aspects:  Program comm, internal comm, market comm
  • Artifacts:  Public comm plan, org-wide compliance statement

3. Policy and Standards

  • Aspects:  accessibility policy and standards
  • Artifacts:  digital accessibility policy (some laws require this), technical standards

4. Legal

  • Aspects:  Regulatory process
  • Artifact:  regulatory calendar, regulatory filings, VPATs GPATs (in conjunction with communications)

5. Fiscal Management

  • Aspects:  budget, ROI
  • Artifacts:  central APO budget (persistent from year-to-year), LoB digital accessibility budget guidance, LoB digital accessibility budgets

6. Development

  • Aspects:  development artifacts, roles and responsibilities, user acceptance, pattern library
  • Artifacts:  lifecycle roles and responsibilities, development artifact guide

7. Testing and Validation

  • Aspects:  accessibility training, infrastructure, accessibility testing artifacts
  • Artifacts:  Accessibility testing plan, usability testing, user group profiles, pilot program, assistive technology catalog

8.  Support and Documentation

  • Aspects:  support process, issue handling, accessible documentation
  • Artifacts:  features document, resolution policy, issue submission form

9.  Procurement

  • Aspects:  solicitations, contracts, vendor governance, employee guidance
  • Artifacts:  3rd party compliance policies and reqs, ICT procurement contract template, ICT procurement policy, procurement accessibility email address

10.  Training

  • Aspects:  training, certification, job aids, internal communication, rollout strategy
  • Artifacts:  training plan, internal comm plan, training metrics and trends

Continuing Adventures in Higher Ed & Technology