The 12th Annual CUNY Accessibility Confernece begins on Tuesday, April 6 and ends on Friday April 9 with different sessions hosted each day.

Select the date below and click on the plus sign (+) icon to view more information for each session. Zoom links to each session will be emailed to registrants only. Sign language interpreters and live captioning will be available for each session. Attendance is free, however registration is required.

Please contact Shivan Mahabir at for any questions.

Welcome Remarks

Ben-Ami Freier

Director, Services for Students with Disabilities, Queensborough Community College

Dr. Denise Maybank

CUNY Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management

Dr. Christine Mangino

President, Queensborough Community College

The Development of a Distance Learning Toolkit for the Higher Education Community at CUNY
Presenters: The CUNY Coalition for Students with Disabilities

The Distance Learning Toolkit was another effort to offer distance learning support to students, faculty, and staff university-wide. In the spring of 2020, our student-led CUNY Coalition for Students with Disabilities (CCSD) hosted the workshop “Top 10 Distance Learning Survival Secrets” to share some resources and techniques we used to be academically successful while navigating a virtual classroom, most of us for the first time. Inspired by the enthusiastic response and identifying the need, we as a coalition brought the idea of creating a distance learning resource to University Director of Student Engagement and Inclusion Charmaine Townsell, who then worked together with Raymond Perez and Chris Fleming of the CUNY Learning Disability Project to develop this resource to help students navigate the virtual learning world. We are proud to have once again established a true partnership between students, faculty, and staff. We are hopeful to continue with this effort to add to this document a resource section specifically for faculty and continue to update and offer our Toolkit once we are all in person again.   

How to Make Online Exams Accessible
Presenters: Cynthia Grimley, Wendi Mathews, Abigail Maher, Stony Brook University

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Colleges and Universities quickly made the transition to online learning platforms. The Student Accessibility Support Center at Stony Brook University realized that students with accommodations would encounter new barriers in this online environment, especially in the area of online testing. Many online testing platforms do not provide for full accessibility for students, especially for those that use assistive technology. SASC was able to adapt by creating a format for virtual proctoring via Zoom. Through Zoom proctoring, we were able to better assist our students who were limited by these online testing platforms. Working with students and faculty alike, we were able to create a whole new system for testing which was able to accommodate all of our students’ unique needs. This presentation aims to educate other members of higher education about our new system in an attempt to make online testing more accessible to all students, not just our Stony Brook Seawolves.

Pivots & Silver Linings: Staying Student Centered During a Pandemic
Presenters: John Woodruff, Lara Roberts LeBeau, Melissa Banuelos, Rowan University

The impact of COVID-19 on colleges and universities was abrupt, immediate and presented multiple challenges. The pandemic left little time for schools to ramp up and pivot towards alternate modes of course delivery and continue to provide student services and resources. This necessity to rethink existing ways in order to best serve students also created opportunities and silver linings in remaining student-centered. 

This session will explore the pivots and silver linings brought about by COVID-19 and the opportunities for schools to rethink their physical and virtual campus programming and practices specific to best support the student experience.   

Responding to COVID-19:  A National Survey of Postsecondary Disability Services
Presenters: Adam Lalor, Manju Banerjee, Landmark College

In 2020, US colleges and universities were faced with the greatest obstacle to delivering higher education:  COVID-19.  As a result, disability services were forced to pivot and provide ADA accommodations and related accessible services online. This presentation details how 212 disability service offices responded to this change in service delivery.

Fostering and Supporting Forms of Academic/Social Engagement for Students with Disabilities in Higher Education
Presenters: Sheryl W. Sobel, Vivian Fernandes, Suzanne D. Jones, Leonard V. Blades, Queensborough Community College

As educators, advisors, job developers, managers and other professional in an academic setting prepare students for the world of work and life; we cannot deny the need for student-based services to be centrally located and accessible. Evidence based predictors indicate that when these students are placed in a safe environment where psychological and emotional support is offered there are improved outcomes in good academic standing, retention, successful transfers from one college to another, graduation and eventually employment. One may argue that self determination and motivation should be sufficient attributes for one to succeed, however (Deci & Ryan, 2000) argued that, “a wide range of reactions to social environments” contribute to the overall success and well-being of students. 

Refocusing the View: Integrating Disability as Identity in Virtual Programming Development
Presenters: Michelle Resnick, Bonnie Landau, California State University Channel Islands

People with disabilities are commonly viewed through the lens of remediation. Historically, campus programming around diversity, equity and inclusion has focused on issues of race, culture, gender and sexual identity. Rarely has there been discussion of disability rights as civil rights or disability as identity. Recently, that began to change. This workshop will help attendees reframe their understanding of disability as shaped through a social justice lens and explore innovative programming designed to foster positive identity and leadership skills among students with disabilities. 

The Next Normal: Reflections, Insights, and Preparation for the Year Ahead
Presenter: Kimberly Doan, Tufts University

Throughout the past year, disability service providers have navigated increasingly complex student, faculty and university needs amidst the broad-reaching effects of the global pandemic. Throughout this period however, a spotlight has shown across institutions highlighting the crucial need for accessible and equitable experiences for all learners. From closed captions on asynchronous lecture recordings to newly envisioned assignments and assessments, instructors and administrators were forced to quickly adjust to remote and hybrid online environments. So, how can we prepare for continued changes as we embark on our “next normal”? In this session, the presenter will discuss how the pandemic has impacted their institution in the areas of academic, housing, dining, and transportation accommodation requests. Other topics covered will include; the ways in which the StAAR Center used this experience as an opportunity for increased campus collaboration, ways students and faculty have been supported in a remote environment, and will conclude with a discussion around proactive planning as we prepare for the upcoming year. 

Dr. Christopher Rosa

Keynote SpeakerJo Anne Simon

A Qualitative Analysis of Remote Learning Barriers Among Students with Disabilities
Presenters: Amy Fisk, SUNY Geneseo, Rebecca Mushtare, SUNY Oswego

This presentation outlines the results of a qualitative study conducted with 40 SUNY Oswego and SUNY Geneseo students registered with the Accessibility Resources at their respective institutions about their academic experiences during the pandemic and accessibility-related barriers that may have experienced. The results of the current study showed that many students experienced barriers pertaining to: •lack of access to campus resources •access to a quiet and dedicated work space •accessibility and organization of digital course materials and learning platforms •lack of support from faculty and interaction with peers, and •navigating boundaries between personal and school demands The presenters will review the results of this study and facilitate an interactive session that explores pedagogical implications and useful Universal Design for Learning strategies and practices.  

Partnerships toward Accessible Design: Cross-Departmental Collaboration on Accessible Web Design
Presenters: Michele Bromley, Ashley Nilson, Portland State University

Accessible design for digital content is a high priority at any time but particularly so now, during a global pandemic when instruction and support services are predominantly online. This session will detail a multi-year, coordinated effort to substantially improve the accessibility and usability of Portland State University’s public-facing website. Attendees will learn methods for cross-campus collaboration, resource development and integration, and ongoing support methodology.

Zen and the Art of Document Accessibility
Presenter: Mark Greenfield, University at Buffalo

Making electronic documents accessible may be the most misunderstood aspect of digital accessibility. Many argue that the only content that belongs on the Web are web pages created in HTML, and that creating accessible documents is extremely difficult if not impossible. Compounding the misunderstandings are accessibility checkers that don’t fully test a document for accessibility and may provide a false sense of security. The reality is that PDFs, documents, spreadsheets, and presentations such as PowerPoint are often the best way to share information electronically and with the proper training, it is not difficult or time-consuming to make them accessible. And instead of focusing exclusively on remediation, there are tools to help make documents accessible as they are created. In this presentation, Mark will review document accessibility standards, demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of various document accessibility checkers, introduce a rubric for determining if a web page or a document is most appropriate, and provide guidance on how to approach document accessibility strategically.  

10-Day Accessibility Challenge Pilot Program
Presenters: Kate Percival, Rebecca Mushtare, Michele Thornton, State University of New York at Oswego

As SUNY Oswego transitioned to all-remote classes in the Spring and Fall of 2020, it became clear that we needed to expand the campus community focused on digital accessibility. In order to successfully shift the culture on our campus, we needed to “build our accessibility muscles” from all sides, including from student group leaders, faculty and staff, to top-level administrators. Our workgroup on accessibility practices developed a 10-day Accessibility Challenge, piloted in January 2020 with nearly 200 participants, to help educate and empower others to improve the accessibility of the materials they create. Each day of the program introduced one basic principle, why it’s important, and how to put it into practice. Different participation options were offered each day to meet the needs of individuals with different levels of experience from synchronous training sessions, to on-demand tutorials, to drop-in one-on-one help sessions. In this session, we’ll outline how we structured the 10-Day Challenge, share some of the feedback and responses from our participants, explain how we’ve evaluated its success, and our next steps.  

Brian Cohen

Award Ceremony
Presented by Raymond Perez and Ron Bissesar

Building an Inclusive Campus Model Upon a Universal Design Framework
Presenter: Sheryl Burgstahler, University of Washington

With UDL as centerpiece, participants will be guided through a process for fleshing out a framework–that includes scope, definition, guidelines, practices, and processes—into a toolkit of relevance to a diverse audience interested in the design of inclusive practices for a campus, department, or specific area such as online learning. Participants will explore how this framework can underpin an Inclusive Campus Model that begins with their institution’s vision and values, applies the, considers existing practices (with respect to stakeholder roles, funding, policies, procedures, training, etc.), designs new practices, and measures outcomes and impacts with respect to the institution’s vision and values. Participants will be encouraged to consider how this approach can integrate with their diversity, equity and inclusion plans. The session topic demonstrates how administrators, faculty, and staff can extend the reach of UDL practices by considering them in the design of all that higher education has to offer. 

IT Accessibilty at CUNY
Presenters: Joseph Sherman, Steven Medina, Danny Villaroel, CUNY

This collaboration between CATS, CIS, and the Central Office of Communications and Marketing will cover: -CATS Assistive Technology Lab Package for use at home -CUNY CIS and Central Office Projects to enhance web and application accessibility.