Reaching faculty and staff can be a challenge during busy days with so much vying for their time. That is why information technology services' (ITS) digital accessibility team created the A11y Bytes: Bite-Sized Tips for Enhaning Digital Accessibilty series. It is designed to help employees understand digital accessibility and its importance with ISU committed to the digital accessibilty policy.
Naming the series
A11y is a short for accessibility, with the number 11 representing the number of letters omitted between the "A" and "y." Bytes conveys the idea of delivering information succinctly, reminiscent of the way computer data is measured in bytes.
"We wanted to come up with a memorable resource that provided easy-to-manage pieces of information related to digital accessibility for people across campus," said digital accessibility specialist for ITS Brittni Wendling. "We don’t want to overwhelm people. We want people to take this information and incorporate it into their daily workflows to improve their digital accessibility knowledge and skills."
Iowa State's digital accessibility policy ensures individuals with disabilities can independently acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services within the same timeframe as individuals without disabilities and with substantially equivalent ease of use. All new digital content produced and purchased at the university must comply with the policy beginning July 1, 2026.
Employees can receive A11y Bytes by going to the digital accessibility website and joining the Digital Accessibility at ISU Microsoft 365 group. The digital accessibility team has developed and curated other resources, including digital accessibility courses in LinkedIn Learning and knowledge base articles in the ISU Service Portal. Questions can be directed to email@example.com.
A11y Bytes has two components:
- Weekly information and tips on digital accessibility posted to the A11y Bytes Teams channel
- Monthly education and training to complement the weekly information
The series began in September with one of the university's contracted captioning vendors, 3Play Media, providing a virtual demonstration. Future sessions will be led by digital accessibility staff, vendors and accessibility adopters across campus. The channel also provides a space for members to talk to each other, share best practices and build community.
"To work up to the policy official date, we have milestones and we thought this would be a good way to offer weekly, attainable tips," said digital accessibility lead for ITS Cyndi Wiley. "The tips come from resources within the digital accessibility toolkit, some directly related to the policy and relevant dates, and just building awareness about what digital accessibility is."
The digital accessibility toolkit provides information and links on how to make everything from images to PowerPoints and websites accessible.
Wiley said faculty tips may center around course development by pointing to resources from the Center for Excellence in Lerning and Teaching and producing accessible digital content in Canvas. Staff information will focus on ensuring content posted to websites is accessible and using appropriate tools to ensure it is done correctly.