August 2018 Accessibility Updates

Welcome to the First Digital Accessibility Update!

In this monthly update you’ll receive listings for upcoming trainings, tips for making your websites and other materials more accessible, information about Yale’s digital accessibility initiatives, and highlights about the people and teams across campus who are working to make Yale more accessible.

Table of Contents

Tip of the Month

There are dozens of self-service articles on the accessibility website, all of which can walk you through everything from adding alt-text to an image in a Word document to adding ARIA tags for dynamic web content. However, you can also email to get help with a specific accessibility issue or request a consult. A member of the accessibility team will return your email and offer support as quickly as possible.


Content Editor Training (Websites)

Yale ITS offers in-person workshops to create and maintain accessible digital content. This training is general enough that its principles can work on any website on any platform. Upcoming sessions include: 

  • Tuesday, August 21 from 1-4pm in 25 Science Park room 321
  • Wednesday, September 19 from 1-4pm in 25 Science Park room 321
  • Friday, October 19 from 9-12am in 25 Science Park room 321

Sign up for the content editor training on Yale TMS.

Document Remediation Training

Yale ITS offers in-person workshops to create, remediate, and maintain accessible digital Word documents, PowerPoints, and PDFs.

Accessible Word documents and PDFs: Basics

  • Thursday, August 9 from 9-11:00 am in 25 Science Park, room 321
  • Wednesday, August 22 from 1-3:00 pm in the Center for Teaching and Learning, room 121
  • Thursday, August 30 from 10 am -noon in Cohen Auditorium, Yale Medical School

Sign up for the Accessible Word documents and PDFs: Basics workshop on Yale TMS.

Accessible PDFs: Advanced

  • Thursday, August 23 from 9-10:30 am in 25 Science Park, room 321

Sign up for the Accessible PDFs: Advanced workshop on Yale TMS.

Yale ITS’s Accessibility Team

When the university announced its Web Accessibility Policy in January, it was the result of several years effort. As an April, 2018 Yale News article about the process makes clear, accessibility is a campus-wide effort and successfully implementing a new policy requires technical skills and a cultural shift. Lisa Sawin, Director of Web Technologies, Michael Wayne Harris, Accessibility Engineer, David Hirsch, Director for Academic IT Strategy (CTL), Kim Miller, Senior Program Manager, Web Technologies, Christine Mongillo, Web Producer, and others on the Web Technologies team have been leading the charge for some time to make the fullest range of websites and digital educational materials accessible.

Since the announcement of the policy, ITS has welcomed Mike Vaughn as its Associate Director of Digital Accessibility. Mike oversees and manages the broad range of Yale’s accessibility efforts under the ITS roof. He previously served as the IT Director at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing in Baltimore, MD. Michelle Morgan, Digital Accessibility Specialist, also came onboard this past spring and works in partnership with the Center for Teaching and Learning on accessibility projects related to educational materials and other document-based tasks. Prior to her assumption of this position, Michelle worked in the CTL on the Educational Technology team and was a graduate student in the American Studies program.

The Accessibility Team is responsible for supporting Yale’s commitment to making information, programs, and activities on its websites and applications more accessible to people with disabilities. We are excited to play a central role in making Yale more diverse and inclusive.

Accessibility Heroes

Want to nominate yourself, a team or someone you know as an Accessibility Hero? Email Michelle Morgan at

Ekaterina Ginzburg, Director of Academic Support, Instructional Technology and Design

During the Spring 2018 semester, Ekaterina invited David Hirsch and Michelle Morgan to the School of Nursing to present a workshop to faculty support staff on making documents accessible. Since then, she has raised awareness about accessibility across the school. In addition to working with faculty to make their materials in Canvas accessible for the Fall 2018 semester, she has set up three boot camp sessions for faculty at the end of August to make sure they’re prepared to make their materials accessible. With Joshua Gleason, Instructional Design Specialist at the School of Nursing, and Mike Vaughn, she has been working on video accessibility standards and has begun captioning all newly developed videos. Lastly, she and her colleagues have requested or are working on getting the most current WCAG and Yale addendum documents from all of their vendors. Ekaterina’s work has helped the Digital Accessibility Team refine the ways they scale out their accessibility efforts by training local support staff, who are the people best suited to helping faculty and students in their areas of campus.

Sam Cohen, Director of Information Technology, Center for International Professional Experience

When ITS reached out to Sam to improve Yale College’s Center for International and Professional Experience websites, Sam responded enthusiastically. After receiving an accessibility audit from an external accessibility vendor, Sam set to work revising the templates that the CIPE use for all of its 9 websites, learning technical standards he needed along the way. With a good foundation in place, Sam is now leading the CIPEs content editors in maintaining accessible content throughout their sites. Sam and the CIPE recognize that there is always more to be done with regard to making websites accessible. They very much consider the accessibility of their sites to be a work in progress and look forward to continuing to make improvements as they approach a second phase in their remediation plan.

Mark Custer, Archivist & Metadata Coordinator, Beinecke Rare Book Library

Mark developed a unique process that ensures all new Finding Aids added to the university webpages will be accessible to screen readers. Archivists who are cataloging and documenting the contents for new Finding Aids enter the data into an application which converts its contents from XML to XSL-FO, embeds accessible metadata using a custom style sheet and, finally, uses Apache FOP and its accessibility features to produce accessible PDFs. Mark’s work is a prime example of how thinking creatively can lead to better access for a very specific but widely-used university resource.