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Accessibility Center Supports Systemwide Goals of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

April 29, 2021

Santa Monica College student, photo provided by California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office

Under the direction of Dawn Okinaka, the California Community Colleges Accessibility Center is intensifying its efforts to help California’s community colleges create a culture of accessibility that supports the goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion outlined in the Chancellor’s Vision for Success.

Okinaka, who has led the Accessibility Center in an interim capacity since August, officially became Director on April 1, following the customary competitive hiring process.

 

She notes a top priority is to drive district-level adoption of accessibility board policies and the CCC Accessibility Standard to instill an organizational mindset of accessibility. In recent well-received presentations hosted by the Accessibility Center, advocates within the system shared how they were able to start conversations and make change on their campuses.

Dawn Okinaka, Director, California Community Colleges Accessibility Center

Another major focus for Okinaka is helping colleges and districts improve the accessibility of information on their public websites, something our institutions have struggled with. Federal and state laws require that electronic information technology and course materials be provided in a way that allows access by all users, including people using assistive technology. To that end, the Accessibility Center recently began targeted outreach to campus public information officers to raise awareness about web accessibility and strategies to achieve it.

Efforts continue as well to provide training and resources to drive accessibility in relation to equity and diversity across the system. Since Okinaka came on board last year, the Accessibility Center has continued to expand its catalog of self-paced accessibility training courses, and begun making them available to a wider audience by removing the requirement to register. There are now three publicly available courses, and more are soon to follow. The Accessibility Center will continue outreach to faculty to increase awareness of accessible course design practices and available resources to help make electronic course materials accessible to all students.

On the horizon, the Accessibility Center plans to begin direct outreach to Alternate Media Specialists with targeted training on products and workflows related to creating accessible alternate media.

Okinaka brings more than a decade of accessibility subject matter expertise to the Accessibility Center, including work with government agencies, higher education, and technology vendors. We at the CCC Technology Center are fortunate to have someone of her expertise leading the systemwide effort to help colleges realize an accessible technology environment.