GAAD: The Important Story of D2L’s Accessibility Interest Group

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D2L’s Accessibility Interest Group has helped solve complex problems through a deeper understanding of accessibility.

On Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), we want to take a moment to say thank you to D2L’s Accessibility Interest Group and acknowledge how much they have been a part of building the accessibility story we have today. We appreciate their passion, their knowledge, and their feedback. We wouldn’t be where we are without them.

History

The Accessibility Interest Group has a long history of working with D2L to help us improve our accessibility story. In fact, in the early days, they were instrumental in helping us develop a deep understanding of accessibility and using that understanding to solve some complex problems. Check out this video to learn more about our commitment to accessibility.

The group is made up of clients and people representing institutions and organizations that are passionate about making sure everyone has equal access to education and the technology that creates it, supported by D2Lers who care just as passionate about this subject. The group’s members are also very willing to help each other solve problems and share resources that they have created for their organizations. Their contributions have been significant.

Contributions

Interest group members have helped their own organizations in a number of ways.

  • Stephen F. Austin State University created instructions for screen-reader users to give to their school’s helpdesk so if they received support calls, they could support them better.
  • Portland Community College built accessibility into their Quality Matters standards for content, with the aim of giving instructors guidance on how to build accessible content right the first time.

They’ve helped us create more accessible products by:

  • Reviewing our Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) and giving us constructive feedback on how to improve it;
  • Helping us tackle complex problems, such as offering alternatives to drag and drop or helping us improve aspects of our system’s accessibility;
  • Brainstorming with designers on ways to make interactive elements more accessible; sometimes helping us realize that the problem isn’t as complex as it looked in the first place; and
  • Tipping us off to better ways to do things as they become aware of them.

And D2L partners have contributed too. Organizations such as Automatic Sync and ReadSpeaker have given presentations to the group on the various ways clients can use their services.

Collaboration

The community is always open to sharing resources they have built at their schools on anything from creating accessible PDFs to good processes that ensure quick captioning of videos to tutorials on the Accessibility Checker. They have pooled their knowledge on what products support MathML best for their learners, even reaching out to vendors advocating for greater support. If someone has a best practice that has worked for them or a valuable nugget of knowledge, they are more than willing to share.

Looking ahead

The group has evolved over the years from solving fundamental problems to sharing strategies and finding ways to do even better. As we look ahead, we’re finding more ways to deepen empathy within D2L for accessibility and bring that mindset into our design and development approach early and often. We’re working to do customer research with a broad set of participants. And we’re identifying creative ways to test early designs for accessibility. Whatever we’re doing, we want the Accessibility Interest Group to feel free to be as involved as they want to be and to know their input is always welcome and appreciated. I hope we work together for years to come. Thank you, again, for all that we have accomplished together over the years.

Learn more about our Accessibility Interest Group and how you can join