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On Tuesday, Sept. 25, the Online Learning Consortium and University of Missouri-Kansas City teamed up to host OLC Collaborate—Kansas City at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center.

Nearly 90 attendees attended the event, the focus being Breaking Barriers: Institutional Strategies for Accessibility in Digital Learning. Attendees were able to take a deep look at the challenges and impact of digital accessibility in education today, working together at the break-out sessions to collaborate, define, and help shape the changing university.

There were three tracks of OLC Collaborate—Kansas City were Exploring the Student Experience, Strategy & Policy, Universal Design, and Professional Development & Improvement. Kelly Hermann, Vice President of Accessibility and Disability Strategy at the University of Phoenix, discussed Strategy and Policy in her session titled Baking in Vs Bolting On: Strategizing Accessibility. She stressed the importance of incorporating accessibility strategies and policies at the beginning as opposed to scrambling when a concern arises.

The Universal Design track was led by Sean Smith, Professor from the School of Education at the University of Kansas. Smith’s session, “Let’s Get Personal: Individualizing the Online Learning Experience for all Learners”, focused on strategies others are using as they implement professional development systems across the enterprise on accessibility.

The third and final session, titled “Digital Accessibility and Institutional Improvement. Professional Development is a Key,” was led by Cyndi Rowland, executive director of WebAIM at Utah State University. Her session focused on strategies others are using as they implement professional development systems across the enterprise on accessibility, which she likened to herding cats.

During the panel discussion during Exploring the Student Experience, OLC Chief Knowledge Officer and former UMKC Vice Provost for Academic Innovation Devon Cancilla led a discussion with the three guest speakers as well as Torie Wynn, UMKC Instructional Designer, regarding what universities should know about accessibility.

The OLC Collaborate events are regional events connecting online learning professionals, educators and administrators as the tough topics in higher education are tackled. The first OLC Collaborate event was held in February 2015 in Kansas City.

UMKC has an institutional membership and UMKC employees may register free. Please click here for the account set-up instructions.