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Introducing the Accessibility Center’s 508 Team

October 31, 2022

Digital accessibility concept: A green accessibility key is highlighted on a computer keyboardSince the beginning of September, the California Community Colleges Accessibility Center has brought in several full-time employees as the center expands its role of supporting IT accessibility efforts in the 116-college system.

The new staff positions were created to help the community colleges address specific obligations defined in Sections 504 and 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act. In the next issue we will introduce the Accessibility Center’s 504 team, which at this writing is still being assembled. For now, let’s talk about 508.

Section 508 requires federal agencies — including public higher education institutions — to ensure that people with disabilities have comparable access to and use of electronic information technology. That means that any information and communication technologies used, maintained, developed, or procured by the California Community Colleges must be accessible to students, faculty, and staff with disabilities.

The 508 team will serve as advisors to colleges that need guidance — or a nudge — as well as providing services in their areas of expertise, said Dawn Okinaka, Director of the Accessibility Center.

“They are going to be the front line in the evolution of the Accessibility Center in terms of providing guidance and implementing the Accessibility Capability Maturity Model (ACMM), as we are pushing the system toward an organized, thoughtful process of implementation of accessibility,” Okinaka said.

Meet the 508 Team

As 508 Program Manager, Christine Fundell will lead the systemwide ACMM push. The maturity model consists of accessibility-related goals and milestones across the areas of digital content, web, and procurement of information and communication technologies and provides a consistent way for diverse campuses to meet accessibility requirements. Fundell most recently was the accessible technology coordinator at California State University (CSU), San Bernardino.

Avi Advani, Web Accessibility Specialist, will provide expertise in the evaluation of website and web application accessibility as well as training of web developers and content contributors. Advani was most recently Interim Associate Director for the Disability Programs and Resource Center at San Francisco State University.

Elisa Carrillo, Digital Accessibility Specialist, will lead the charge to ensure electronic documents, websites, videos, audio, digital tools, and interactive content are accessible to everyone. Carrillo came from CSU, Long Beach, where she was the main point of contact for document accessibility remediation for faculty and staff.

Tom Siechert, Accessible Procurement Specialist, will provide expertise in procurement processes that proactively assess the accessibility of products and services, work with developers to remediate accessibility barriers, and plan for providing equally effective alternate access for partially accessible solutions. Siechert joined from Fresno State, where he led development of an enterprise-level integrated IT purchase review system later adopted by a majority of the CSU’s 23 campuses.

For more information, you can find individual bios posted on the Accessibility Center website. Please join us in welcoming and supporting these staff members to the Technology Center team as they work to ensure all of our information and technologies are accessible for students, faculty, staff, and the general public.