By Erin McCully and Susannah Simmons
As we noted in our initial reflection about the Penn State ID2ID Program, we were fortunate to have been randomly paired together in a wildly successful, worldwide program. We would likely never have met given our geographic locations (North Carolina and Colorado), but have learned a great deal through our collaboration. This collaboration grew to include LaDawna Minnis and Sam Coulson, other ID2ID participants, who we connected with via the pedago.me instructional design community.
The outcome of our multi-leveled collaboration was an accessibility webinar that took place after months of weekly meetings and work with Mike Hess and Ethan Twisdale of the Blind Institute of Technology. These connections have already resulted in an invitation from them for us to present at an accessibility conference in Denver in the spring. Not all of us may be able to attend in person, but there may be the possibility of a virtual component.
Group meeting times proved difficult given family and other work obligations. There was also the challenge of keeping taskloads manageable for each person. However, the group was able to work through some panic moments. This required clear communication with the team so that others could pick up some of the load. A prime example was when Susannah expressed the feeling of overwhelm about figuring out the webinar platform or lack thereof. The group stepped in to form a work-around plan. We ironed out the wrinkles in how the technology would/should work and created a timeline detailing. By doing a dry run, we were able to find possible pitfalls to avoid.
The accessibility webinar was attended by 14 people and the responses to our follow-up survey generated ideas for topics of future webinars in this series leading up to the Accessibility Symposium.
Erin intends to remain a member of the pedago.me group and become more active in slack to network professionally with other instructional designers. (This group is a gold mine of experiences, ideas, and tips!)
Susannah will continue to pursue opportunities learning about accessibility in higher education. It seems that accessibility will only grown in importance and could expand into a speciality instructional design role.
Erin’s Personal Reflection
I am so very grateful for the ID2ID program – while the original plan to get an instructional design mentor through this program didn’t work out, being paired with an instructional design “buddy” was wonderfully helpful. The ID2ID program has provided me with connections and free professional development that has already helped me grow as an instructional designer. I look forward to assisting with more accessibility webinars as well as other projects ahead!
Susannah’s Personal Reflection
I no longer fear the word accessibility. Hearing about schools getting sued for accessibility issues has had a haunting effect on my work. Faculty often looks to me as an expert, but I’m learning alongside everyone else. However, this experience has removed my fear. The more I talk about accessibility with other designers and pursue new skills in this arena, the less intimidated I feel. Like with anything else, it’s a matter of deciding to learn and following through. The accessibility webinar was a fantastic opportunity to learn directly from an expert as well as expand my network to include those I would like to emulate.