Accessibility is at the Core of Academic Innovation

Mike Daniel, Director, Policy and Operations, Academic Innovation

Updated 10/04/2016

As we in the Office of Academic Innovation at the University of Michigan work to partner with faculty, students, and staff through the University to shape the future of learning and redefine public residential education at a 21st century research university through the creation and refinement of digital courses, programs and tools, it is critical that we ensure these courses, programs and tools are accessible to as broad an audience of learners as possible.  From the earliest brainstorming meetings through design and implementation, Academic Innovation strives to incorporate accessibility considerations as a primary consideration when partnering with faculty.  In addition, as a member of the U-M community it is Academic Innovation’s duty to reinforce the overall University commitment to accessibility that permeates the University.

As such, Academic Innovation has articulated a set of guiding principles related to accessibility that provide the Academic Innovation team with a framework from which we operate when partnering with campus.  They are as follows:

  • Ensure equal opportunity to the educational benefits afforded by the use of technology
  • Employ the use of accurate captions and audio descriptions
  • Proactively leverage the latest advancements in accessibility solutions
  • Facilitate accessibility implementation through faculty and staff training, integration with existing IT, and digital media production by Academic Innovation staff
  • Utilize the core principles of universal design in Academic Innovation projects
  • Start with building access to as wide a population of learners as possible, and then enable accommodation when initial safeguards are not enough

Academic Innovation views accessibility not as a compliance obligation but instead a key component of our institutional ethos.  Similarly, we understand that maximizing the accessibility of digital content and tools we help create, produce, and refine will maximize their impact for all learners who engage with the content and tools.  We realize that infusing the faculty-led initiatives we support with these guiding principles is an essential component of our mission within the University.  To help do this, Academic Innovation partners with other units across campus such as Information and Technology Services, Human Resources, and the University Library, to navigate design and implementation decisions.   

Through leveraging best practices around accessibility from both within and outside of the University of Michigan community, Academic Innovation is committed to helping our faculty and staff live up to the University’s institutional goal of being leaders and best when it comes to digital program, course, and tool development. Academic Innovation’s Accessibility Guiding Principles highlight our commitment to creating inclusive learning environments for the U-M campus community and learners around the world.

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