The Early Years

Today's Web Accessibility initiative at UC Berkeley has its roots in a volunteer movement that began in 2005.

Dianne Walker, from the Office of the CIO (Chief Information Officer), founded the Web Access working group. Early participants included IST (now Berkeley IT) employees and interested people from other campus units. Lucy Greco (then from the Disabled Students Program) and Caroline Boyden (then from the College of Letters & Science) have been part of the movement since its early days.

The first few Web Access meetings focused on policy and collaboration with other campuses. When a group member asked the group to review a website for accessibility, the group inaugurated what is now the most popular, helpful, and enjoyable service: Web Access clinics.

  • Lucy ran through the site on her screen reader
  • Caroline pointed out where the source code was helping or hindering accessibility
  • All of the group members asked questions and contributed expertise
  • Site owners and developers went away from the meeting with a new appreciation for accessibility and plenty of information on how to improve their sites

Collaboration and Recognition

Over the next few years, most meetings included website clinics. Many people who came for a clinic ended up joining the group and returning to contribute to other site clinics. Websites and projects reviewed during these clinics include (but were not limited to):

  • College of Engineering
  • Career Compass
  • WageWorks
  • Webcast
  • eLearn
  • Rec Sports
  • Plant and Microbial Biology
  • Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity

(For more examples, see Collaborations and Affiliations)

The group also had guest speakers, including a Google developer who talked about his accessibility team, and a faculty member from the School of Optometry who presented on low vision issues and gave us all insights into the science behind accessibility.

Web Access has since been recognized for its service to the campus:

  • Chancellor Robert Birgeneau (the previous Chancellor) honored the group with a Chancellor’s Outstanding Staff Award in 2006
  • Office of the Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion gave the group a grant in 2008, which supported additional staff time for clinics, a website, and a series of presentations at WebNet meetings (covering Wordpress and Drupal, PDF creation, before-and-after reviews, and rich internet applications)

Web Platform Services at UC Berkeley

In the spring of 2012, IST proposed a campuswide Web Accessibility project, and Lucy Greco moved to IST to become the campus accessibility analyst. The project received IST sponsorship in 2013, just in time to help site owners all over campus improve their sites in accordance with the new systemwide Information Technology Policy.

After eight years as volunteers, Lucy and Caroline are now part of the Berkeley IT Web Platform Services team, and are very happy to be able to continue serving the campus by providing training, resources, and evaluation services. Anna Gazdowicz joined the Web Accessibility team as Program Coordinator in November 2013.

Read more about the services provided by the Web Accessibility team.