Who’s job should this be?

Often, when concerns about accessibility come to campus, either new people are hired, or new responsibilities are added to the workload of existing employees.

At WSU, both of those happened, and the people involved led a committee that started to address the work.

The challenge with a project this big, one that touches every part of the university, is that it’s simply not something that a small team can just “take care of” for the rest of us.

The expectations for the small team of people with new responsibilities needs to be that they champion new behavior and train everyone else. Expertise needs to be developed, but in the end the actual work needs to be something everyone at the institution adopts. A small remediation team might take on large pockets of documents that need to be made accessible, but if the rest of the institution continues to produce inaccessible work product, that team will drown.

There’s also a lot of danger in the idea of hiring a person or a few people to “handle” an initiative this important for an institution. The situation creates an opportunity for scapegoating and compartmentalization that can be damaging to institutions and to individual careers, so if you’ve taken on one of those roles for your institution, make sure the expectations are clear. You’re there to lead, to train, and to promote — you’re not there to solve the problem while everyone else ignores it.

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