Accessibility is a Key Indicator to Achieving an Inclusive Community

October 30, 2023
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Professional Development and Contributions to the Field
Illustration of developers updating a website.

By Jacqueline Carter, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Manager, Washington University – Olin Business School, and AACRAO Board of Directors President 

AACRAO is taking significant steps to ensure accessibility for all. In the spirit of inclusivity, diversity, and inclusion, AACRAO is implementing the AACRAO DEI strategy, which focuses on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. A vital component of this strategy is the commitment to accessibility for all, which begins with a thorough audit of all the association’s products and services through an accessibility lens.

How We Started

The journey towards accessibility for all started last spring when AACRAO incorporated a sign language interpreter at the annual meeting. While this was a positive step forward, AACRAO recognized that much more work could be done to create a fully inclusive environment.

To pave the way, AACRAO formed a ten-member task force through a call to the membership. The Accessibility Taskforce is comprised of individuals with personal connections to accessibility issues. This connection was a powerful source of motivation and commitment in leading the charge to ensure that AACRAO is accessible to every member. The task force shared a passion for ensuring accessibility in AACRAO’s operations.

The task force comprehensively reviewed how AACRAO interacts with its offline and online members. This included examining articles, conferences, webinars, podcasts, and all other platforms through which the association reaches its audience. In this process, the team was particularly impressed by the efforts of the AACRAO Education and Membership Development team, led by Dr. Tina DeNeen, which had already made significant strides in the direction of accessibility.

Where We're Going

With a clear understanding of the challenges AACRAO faced and the potential solutions at their disposal, the task force set out to create an accessibility roadmap. This roadmap outlines the steps necessary to make AACRAO’s offerings accessible to everyone. One of the central realizations in this process was that accessibility challenges can vary from person to person. While some people may face geographical or altitude-related obstacles in attending events, others may have issues related to the capability to access certain services or the availability of necessary equipment like microphones for speakers. The task force recognized that true accessibility goes beyond meeting standard compliance; it’s about ensuring that all members can engage with AACRAO’s services and events in a way that suits their individual needs.

The task force acknowledges that achieving full accessibility is a process that will require significant financial commitment. They understand that not everything can be accomplished at once, but they are committed to making gradual, consistent progress until they reach their accessibility goals are met.

The task force consulted with Stephen Smith, Executive Director of Accessible Higher Education and Disability (A.H.E.A.D.), who said, we all like to feel planned for. The key is to let members know that AACRAO is prepared to support them. Our members should be confident that AACRAO is working towards making its resources and events accessible to everyone, regardless of their unique needs.

Members of the Accessibility Task Force:

  • Co-Chair: Whitney West, Ed.D., LSU Law 
  • Co-Chair: Rhonda Kitch, Ph.D., Cornell University, Past-President AACRAO 
  • Co-Chair: Jackie Carter, MBA, CDFT, Washington University Olin Business School, President AACRAO 
  • Member: Chantel Black, Spokane Community College 
  • Member: Nga Dang, Fulbright University Vietnam
  • Member: Iman Riddick, The Institute of World Politics
  • Member: Christine Welden, Oral Roberts University
  • Member: Tina DeNeen, Ed.D., Associate Executive Director, Education and Member Development
  • Member: Jody Gordon, Managing Consultant, AACRAO
  • Member: Brittany Brown, Associate Director, IT and Business Development, AACRAO

AACRAO’s dedication to the DEI strategy and its commitment to accessibility for all is a testament to its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Their collaborative efforts and financial commitment will help AACRAO achieve its vision of true accessibility, one step at a time. By striving for accessibility, AACRAO is working towards an inclusive community where every member can thrive and fully participate.


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