[Cato] FW: **DSSC Letter of Concern regarding CATO**

Jess Thompson jess.thompson at sbctc.edu
Fri Feb 15 15:04:35 PST 2019

Just an FYI: This was sent to the Deputy Directors of the Education and IT divisions at SBCTC.

Jess :)

Jess Thompson
Program Administrator, Accessible Technology Initiatives
Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges
1300 Quince St SE | PO Box 42495 | Olympia, WA 98504
p: 360.704.4327|c: 253.229.8591
jess.thompson at sbctc.edu<mailto:jess.thompson at sbctc.edu> | www.sbctc.edu<http://www.sbctc.edu/> |https://accesswa.blog/
Current Projects<https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KXjxctpTAa2R06iRksMrjaeiCkphAJzqkwX-awvJh9g/edit?usp=sharing>

From: Mary Gerard <MGerard at btc.edu>
Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2019 12:52 PM
To: Carli Schiffner <cschiffner at sbctc.edu>; Grant Rodeheaver <grodeheaver at sbctc.edu>; Mark Jenkins <mjenkins at sbctc.edu>
Cc: Ruben Flores <rflores at sbctc.edu>; Jess Thompson <jess.thompson at sbctc.edu>
Subject: **DSSC Letter of Concern regarding CATO**

To the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges:

The Disability Support Services Council (DSSC) is deeply concerned by the CATO update delivered at our Fall Meeting on Wednesday, October 17, 2018. The Winter Meeting update on January 31, 2018 reinforced our cause for concern, given nothing has changed nor progressed. It seems as though the strong work accomplished by CATO in a short amount of time is in a holding pattern. In response to these updates, DSSC strongly recommends that CATO continue the work that was presented last year.

Specifically, we ask that CATO:

  1.  be integrated into the system governance structure,
  2.  maintain interdisciplinary membership,
  3.  continue developing and implementing a method for the colleges to centralize accessibility test results, and
  4.  develop or provide training that supports the development of a trusted tester network, or some way for colleges to trust/validate the testing carried out by other schools.
Our understanding is that CATO was formed to serve as a cross-functional, system-wide body intentionally designed to convene people, including people who do not normally collaborate, to discuss accessible technology from various perspectives. If CATO were to be folded into an existing council/commission, we would be concerned about the ability for other stakeholders to give adequate input. Collaboration between councils is often limited to a shared quarterly meeting that may occur once a year, at most.

Leadership for accessibility initiatives varies by college, with eLearning taking a lead at some colleges, IT leading at others, and perhaps Student Services and Communication leading on still other campuses. Whichever group leads accessibility initiatives on a campus inherently brings their unique lens to that leadership, which means that there may be a lack of uniformity in progress and results. While we recognize that each campus is different and some flexibility is beneficial, we also believe that uniformity of basic standards and results across campuses is not only critical to success, but also the most efficient use of state resources. This will require empowered leadership at the State Board level.

We have determined that CATO needs to have a strong connection/relationship with the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC). The reality is that an accessible technology initiative requires effective collaboration between all areas of our campuses. Collaboration requires coordination,  clear leadership, and authority. When the State Board leads an initiative, colleges are more likely to listen and respond.  Areas of the State Board have already demonstrated leadership in accessible technology and have developed relationships with WaTech, other state agencies, and external partnerships that may benefit our system in this work.

Lastly, equity is an important initiative and value for our colleges and accessibility work is an equity issue.  As such, it must be addressed and included in our equity work all across the system. Students with disabilities deserve a State Board that is committed to their access and success, and we believe that strengthening and empowering CATO so that it is positioned to take on that leadership role is a critical next step for the system.


[cid:image003.jpg at 01D4C53E.FEDD30A0]<https://www.btc.edu/>Mary Gerard, M.Ed., (she/her/hers)
Director, Accessibility Resources<https://www.btc.edu/CurrentStudents/DSS/indexSupport.aspx>
Bellingham Technical College<http://www.btc.edu/>
President, WA State Disability Support Services Council
3028 Lindbergh Ave. | Bellingham, WA 98225
P: 360.752.8576 | F: 360.752-7376
Connectedness * Professionalism * Integrity

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