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Institution A started its initiative by focusing exclusively on technology accessibility policy. Its policy task force was created under the institutions’ provost. That meant that the group was made up of faculty and staff that work on the academic side of the campus. The group also had support from the institution’s legal counsel, which was eager to get a policy in place after seeing high profile discrimination complaints settled with several institutions across the country. Once a good draft policy was ready, the group presented it to the provost on campus. The provost reviewed the draft and told the group that the policy looked good. But, the provost said that it was not a policy that could come out of the provost’s office. It should come out of a more central part of the campus instead. The group took this feedback and adjusted the policy a bit to reflect a broader reach. But they did not reach out and bring in more participants from other parts of the campus. The conversations remained fixed narrowly on policy. This focused effort resulted in a policy being published in less than one year from the time the group first met. The group at this intuition has since grown to include more participants from other parts of the campus.
Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of Institution A’s approach:
The policy group was agile. It was small, focused narrowly on one large task and had the support from leadership to dedicate time to drafting and reviewing policy. Policy was quickly adopted for the campus. The policy task force included a student and faculty member with disabilities. Having the perspective of those that are most profoundly affected by accessible technology can help to make the policy more effective.
The policy group was small and narrowly focused on one large task. This can be pro, but it also causes some problems: If one participant in the group leaves or changes roles on campus and cannot participate, then there is a risk that the effort will stall. Other voices from around the campus were not heard as the policy drafts came together. Once the provost said that the policy should go higher so it reached more of the campus, the group ideally would have grown to include some of the people that were under the policy umbrella as it went higher up. Resources have yet to follow the policy. The original thought was that policy had to be in place before resources would come through. Now with policy in place, resources have yet to be dedicated to the effort.