Need a little motivation to kick off the year?

As another school year begins, those of us in the accessibility arena face a new year filled with opportunities and challenges. Can we get support at administrative levels? Will this be the year to finally get policy documents on web accessibility passed by the Academic Senate? Are faculties going to take advantage of training opportunities designed for them? How can we integrate web accessibility supports into existing campus-wide technology supports? Is it possible to get a system in place to monitor all our efforts so we know if we are making a difference? How can we get campus-wide web accessibility efforts a budget?

Each of these is a heavy lift. Yet, one theme present across these challenges is the issue of motivation, for administrators, key staff, faculties, and students. I have long thought that our motivation “personality” lies somewhere between being a cheerleader and a taxman. We know we cannot do this work alone, and as such we need to be cognizant of how we contribute to the motivation of individuals across specific groups. If we are to be successful this year, no matter our specific effort, we need to consider the role of motivation.

I was fortunate to participate in the day-long Accessibility Sprint, a meeting of accessibility personnel in higher education just prior to the AHEAD conference this summer. Participants spent a large part of the day in smaller working groups. Since I had been spending a lot of time thinking about the challenges of motivating others, I joined that group. We had amazing discussions on this issue. Each member brought ideas and concerns straight from their experiences to the discussion. As one of our group’s action items, we decided that we would co-author a series of short resources on motivation in higher education, and that we would post them to the NCDAE site.

This month we present motivation ideas for faculty and staff. In October we will offer ideas for technologists and procurement specialists. Then in December, we will finish the series with resources that cover motivating students and those in administration. Each resource is the product of the collective thinking of the group, and as such we all share credit if we provided you with a good idea, and we all warrant your criticism if we failed to do so. Of course, I would hope that if you have ideas we have missed, that you would present them here, so that others can use your ideas, experiences, or your cautionary advice.

The alphabetical listing of members of the 2014 Summer Accessibility Sprint cluster on Motivating Others in Higher Education include:

  • Joshua Hori, Student Disability Center Analyst, University of California Davis
  • Marc Montaser, IT Consultant, Cal State University Fullerton
  • Cyndi Rowland, Director, WebAIM and the National Center on Disability and Access to Education
  • Janet Sedgley, Accessible Technology Services Manager, University of Montana
  • Thad Selmants, Assistive Technology Specialist, Sierra College
  • Laurie Vasquez, Assistive Technologies Specialist, Santa Barbara City College

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