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Summer 2018 Accessibility Workshops

This summer, OIT will be offering two NEW multi-day workshops designed to support faculty as they enhance the accessibility and usability of their courses and course materials. Whether you are developing a new course, bringing a course online, or want to be proactive about improving an existing course or course materials, these workshops can be a powerful resource for developing your skills and having an opportunity for hands-on practice. Space is limited, so sign up today!

OIT Summer Accessibility Program Announced

Join OIT for the Summer Accessibility Program, a hands-on workshop for instructional faculty. Over the course of 12 hours (3 half-days), you will engage with students, collaborate with accessibility experts, and learn more about tools/methods used to convert course materials to meet accessibility standards.

Dates: EITHER June 6, 7, 8 OR June 14, 15, 16
Time: 8:30a.m. – 12:30p.m.
Location: 406 Greve Hall

More information can be found on our Summer 2016 training and workshops page.

Attendees at AccessibleU workshop

How to Be a Better, More Accessible, U

Jessica Phillips photo

Jessica Phillips

Jessica Phillips, Senior Instructional Designer and Universal Design and Accessibility Coordinator in the Office of Distance Learning and eLearning at The Ohio State University, recently presented a full day of workshops for faculty and staff at UT.

Her presentations included Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and accessibility tricks and tips. One presentation centered on how to build buy-in, which begins with answering the “Why?” Then, we learned about building a community of practice where the institution comes alive with accessibility discussions in every forum and format. Lastly, we were pleased to see how simple changes in our own routines (like always using style headings in Word documents) can make such a huge difference for all. We emerged from the workshops overflowing with concrete “next steps” for ourselves and ideas to bring to our colleagues.

OIT’s Instructional Support staff and the Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center will develop sessions to deliver what they learned to a larger population of faculty and staff over the next few months.

November Training Opportunities

Developing Accessible Websites
November 2, 2-4 p.m.
Presented by Creative Communications

Web Content & Accessibility
November 4, 2-4 p.m.
Presented by Creative Communications

Removing Barriers: Making Word, PowerPoint, and PDF Accessible on a Mac, MS Office 2011
November 5, 1-3 p.m.
Presented by OIT

Removing Barriers: Making Word, PowerPoint, and PDF Accessible using Office 2013 for Windows
November 12, 10 a.m.–noon
Presented by OIT

Location and registration information for these sessions can be found on our Fall 2015 Training & Workshops page.


Library to Host Expert on Marrakesh Treaty: Copyright Exceptions Would Benefit the Visually Impaired

Krista Cox, director of public policy initiatives for the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), was part of the Diplomatic Conference that concluded the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. The campus and the public are invited to her talk, Tuesday, October 20, 1:00-2:30 p.m., in the Hodges Library auditorium.

[read more]

Accessible Web Templates Released

As a public university, our online information must be accessible to all visitors. As such, the University of Tennessee develops its central website,, and its official website templates with an eye toward optimized accessibility. We strive be in compliance with Section 508 standards for web-based intranet and internet information and applications.

In past years, web accessibility at the university has largely been addressed through adherence to web coding best practices such as using good semantic HTML to structure web pages, consistently employing alt text for images, captioning videos, not using images or colors as sole conveyors of information, using tables for data presentation only, etc.

In June 2015, the Office of Communications & Marketing’s web team issued a new set of web templates following WCAG 2.0 guidelines. In addition to following web coding best practices, the templates now include ARIA landmarks within the template HTML to provide an extra layer of accessibility for users and give campus units an accessible foundation upon which to build their individual sites.

The new web templates have been tested—and will continue to be tested—with users who rely on assistive technology to access the internet. Periodic updates will ensure that web accessibility remains a central focus of online campus communication. A listserv for campus web developers, designers, and content managers, UTWEBDEV, will be used as a central resource for sharing information about accessibility and other web development concerns.

Information on creating accessible websites will also be posted on this website. Central training for campus web developers and digital content managers will be available in the coming months.

Contact the university’s central team of web developers and designers at

Download the new templates here.

Team Working to Improve Accessibility of Materials and Technology

A team of faculty, staff, and students is working to improve the accessibility of UT Knoxville’s instructional materials and technology.

Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek formed the group of faculty and staff in March to work closely with faculty, staff, and students in establishing and achieving accessibility goals. The Accessibility Implementation Team is charged with developing a campus policy on accessibility of instructional materials and technology. These include the main university web presence, library services, and course management and course registration systems. The team will also identify high-traffic campus websites and establish a timeline for improving them. It will also establish training on accessible materials and technology, and develop a plan for monitoring compliance. Heather Hartman, summer sessions coordinator, is chairing the team.

Last year, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission charged the UT System and the Tennessee Board of Regents to develop and implement policies for accessible information materials, technology, and digital curricula used in the college and university setting. The term accessible means a person with a disability is afforded the same opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability in an equally effective and equally integrated manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use.

A UT System study group produced a set of recommendations for action, recognizing that each campus should tailor its plans to meet specific needs. The campus team will seek input from stakeholders on a variety of accessibility-related issues over the coming year. Subcommittees have been established to address specific areas of focus:

  • Training, Textbook, and Learning Materials—Jean Derco, an executive director in the Office of Information Technology, is chair.
  • Websites—Leigh Shoemaker, assistant director of creative communications in the Office of Communications and Marketing, is chair.
  • Policy, Procedures, and Monitoring—Hartman also is chair of this subcommittee.
  • Communication and Awareness—Joel Reeves, assistant vice chancellor and chief information officer, is chair.

Several other initiatives are underway outside the scope of the team’s work. These include working on the bidding and purchasing procedures to purchase or recommend only accessible information materials and technologies where feasible. System and campus finance and administration officers are working together to examine the feasibility of a joint RFP for statewide vendors for these products and services.

If you have questions about the Accessibility Implementation Team, contact Heather Hartman at or 865-974-0622.

This article originally appeared in Tennessee Today.

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