Big Bend selected for State Board accessibility grant

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MOSES LAKE — The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges has selected Big Bend Community College to be a part of its 2018-19 Access360 cohort. The yearlong mentorship program offers participating schools support and accountability as they work to implement accessibility policies and practices on their respective campuses.

Big Bend is one of only ten colleges chosen to participate this year.

Participating in Access360 will help the college strategically plan for making ‘thinking accessible’ a part of the campus culture. Through Access360, the Big Bend team will be able to problem solve and brainstorm with other colleges working towards the same outcome.

 “There is a vision of inclusiveness I’m hoping we awaken in our community, and the accessibility work we’re doing is part of that,” said Big Bend Director of Information Technology and Accessible Technology Coordinator Rick Sparks.

Through Access360, the college is also awarded $10,000 in grant funding to further accessibility work on campus — such as website/document evaluation and video captioning efforts, bringing accessibility training to campus and travel to Access360 conferences and workshops.

Some of that accessibility work has already been started by the college’s Accessible Technology Team.

During the last couple of years, ATT has facilitated several campus-wide training opportunities geared at helping faculty and staff create accessible materials. They have also led a push to caption instructional videos and create accessible textbook formats for the college’s Workforce Education programs.

The team has also been working on improving accessible computer work stations across campus. The project involves installing accessible software such as screen reader and speech recognition programs and ensuring users have access to assistive technology such as ergonomic keyboards and mice.

“We don’t want to be reactive whenever a student needs accommodations,” said BBCC Disability Services Coordinator Lora Lyn Allen. “Access360 is going to help us put things in place proactively.”