Why accessibility is important for the whole college

Hopefully, you’ve seen the information coming out this year about the LCC accessibility project. You may have thought to yourself, “I agree this is important, but I don’t teach students. What does accessibility have to do with me?”

While class materials are a large part of this accessibility project, class documents aren’t the only items that need to be accessible. In the big picture, ANY document or material the college creates, maintains or provides should be accessible to all users. This includes websites, forms, marketing materials, HR paperwork, financial documents, reports and so much more.

The following are four reasons why accessibility is important for the whole college as well as some examples that might help you to see what it means to be compliant with accessibility guidelines in areas outside of the classroom.

Accessibility ensures everyone with disabilities can use LCC materials and resources.
Making our websites, documents, videos, etc., compliant with accessibility guidelines means we’re doing our part to ensure smooth access for any possible user. These users might include current and future students, current and future employees, alumni, “clients” served in our community organizations, and anyone who visits our website.

For example, appropriate accessibility means that a diverse range of job candidates can easily apply for LCC positions. It means that all aspects of the hiring process, from posting the position to interviewing candidates to completing the on-boarding paperwork, will be accessible and usable by all participants.

Everyone at LCC will benefit.
Accessibility means current employees with disabilities can work to their full potential. In addition, websites and materials designed or edited with accessibility in mind are more usable whether or not a person has a permanent disability. LCC’s accessibility guidelines are intended to provide access to individuals with disabilities, but the enhancements offer benefits to all users.

For example, employees who have temporary injuries, who are easily distracted, who work in an open cubicle area but have broken headphones, or who didn’t sleep well the night before can be more productive if the materials they are working with are accessible.

LCC’s electronic materials will have staying power.
The LCC accessibility guidelines follow the most up-to-date criteria (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines – WCAG 2.0) which are device-independent standards. This means that even as new devices or gadgets are used, materials will still be accessible. They won’t have to be redesigned or reformatted for accessibility every time someone wants to use a new device.

It may seem like a massive task right now, but as we do the work to revise materials we can be confident the materials will remain accessible even as the technology around them changes.

It’s the right thing to do.
Accessibility makes possible a broader range of employment and educational opportunities and allows those with disabilities to participate in activities many of us take for granted such as reading a newsletter, filling out a form or watching an online video.

To create a culture of universal accessibility at LCC, every individual in the LCC community has to take on the responsibility of ensuring materials within their area are accessible. We need to work together to change our mindset so accessibility becomes the standard, not the exception. In this way we’ll create a fully welcoming campus.

For more information about the LCC accessibility project and LCC’s accessibility guidelines, visit the LCC Accessibility Initiative website. The site includes the Forms Accessibility Checklist and links to other internal and external accessibility resources. You can also contact LCC’s Records Information Specialist, Linnea Knapp, at knappl1@lcc.edu.