Digication CEO touts 'top-notch' IADP online certificate program

10/10/2022

Registration has been extended to Wednesday, Oct. 26.

As the CEO and co-founder of Digication, Jeffrey Yan knew the importance of making his company’s award-winning e-Portfolio and Assessment Management system accessible to everyone.

Jeffrey YanRatnaYelgoe
At left, Jeffrey Yan, CEO and Co-founder of Digication. At right, Ratna Yelgoe, Senior Accessibility and Quality Assurance Engineer at Digication

Digication is the leading provider of e-Portfolio and assessment systems for educational institutions. The company currently supports millions of users at more than 7,000 K-12 and higher education institutions throughout the US.

"It is simply not enough to implement a user interface component in a way that is compliant to accessibility standards,” Yan said. “For example, googling an accessible drop-down menu will yield many results that include sample code and reusable components. However, it is very difficult for the developer to understand why they should use one component over another, and how to structure an entire user experience consistently so that it makes sense for users of all abilities.”

Through Digication’s information accessibility work with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Yan learned about the Information Accessibility Design & Policy (IADP) online certificate program, offered through the College of Applied Health Sciences (AHS) at Illinois. AHS is a pioneer and leader in accessibility education and research.

He was so impressed by the program and staff that he made it one of Digication’s professional development benefits—paid for in full by the company.

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The IADP online certificate program consists of three, 2-credit 8-week online courses that can be completed in one academic year. It’s available to undergraduate, graduate, degree, or degree-seeking students.

Through the program, website/web application developers and designers, content creators in education and industry, eLearning specialists, instructional designers, information technology specialists, and disability service providers will learn the principles of accessible information architecture and universal design used in education, healthcare, and employment settings.

Students will also learn the federal and state legal mandates governing information accessibility and their relationship to the civil rights of people with disabilities, as well as technology accessibility standards, design techniques that adhere to those standards, and tools that support validation and evidence of compliance to those standards.

The goal: to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal access to digital, video, audio, and print information.

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With Yan’s encouragement, Ratna Yelgoe enrolled in the program. She is a Senior Accessibility and Quality Assurance Engineer, and her job involves testing the products developed in Digication.

“As part of my work, I used aXe tools to write automated test scripts to identify accessibility issues,” said Yelgoe, who had no prior formal accessibility training.

She earned her IADP certificate in May 2022.

Yelgoe said the program deepened her understanding of the issues faced by users with disabilities.

“I have gained experience in not just identifying accessibility issues but also providing solutions,” she said, adding she “enjoyed this course thoroughly. It was well-designed and organized, providing us lots of information and lots of pointers to explore different topics.”

While Yelgoe has taken online courses on other topics before, she said the IADP program provided her with a much different experience “as it's a cohort based online program.”

“Every week, select topics are discussed with our course mates/instructors who come from different backgrounds/experience, which provides a lot more insight on the topics,” she explained. “I stay in India, and I thought it would be difficult to manage the course work with the different time zones and work schedule. But this is a self-paced course and although there are deadlines, the instructors provide us flexibility for assignment submissions.”

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Yan said the knowledge and skills Yelgoe acquired from the program have improved the entire front-end development team’s ability to create more accessible software.

“The IADP program covers much more than technical solutions to making a user interface element accessible. It includes a wide range of examples of why and how we can make our software more usable for scenarios far beyond being compliant to the industry standard,” he said.

Yan added it’s critical for companies to have web developers and designers who understand the fundamental principles behind accessibility. And, according to Yan, the IADP curriculum and faculty are “pedagogically top notch.

“This is incredibly important because we want our developers enrolled in this program to experience a coherent and enjoyable learning experience,” he said. Program Coordinator and Instructor “Marc Thompson and his team are experts in instructional design in addition to their expertise in accessibility. This is an incredibly rare combination that is unique to this program.”

Yelgoe definitely recommends the IADP certificate program to “anyone who is involved in website or app development, design, testing, product managers” in a broad spectrum of careers and discipline areas.

“Anyone with a non-technical background can take up this course,” she added. “I do not have any web development experience and thought I wouldn’t be able to complete some of the assignments. However, the instructors covered these topics by providing us with lots of resources and starting with simple assignments and gradually increasing the level of complexity.”

Register now! The registration deadline for the Information Accessibility Design and Policy (IADP) online certificate program has been extended to Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022.

For more information about enrollment, course content, and learning outcomes, contact Dr. Marc Thompson at thompso1@illinois.edu.

For information about registration, tuition, technology, and other logistics, contact Erika Albin at ealbin@illinois.edu.

 

Learn more about the IADP online certificate program

The Information Accessibility Design and Policy (IADP) online certificate program is offered by the College of Applied Health Sciences (AHS) at the  University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Through this award-winning program, website developers, programmers, designers, information technology specialists, compliance officers, educators, and disability service providers will learn about the following skills and knowledge areas:

Principles of accessible information architecture and universal design methods used in educational, healthcare, corporate, and employment settings

  • Federal and state legal mandates governing information technology accessibility and their relationship to the civil rights of people with disabilities
  • Information technology accessibility standards, design practices that enable adherence to those standards, and tools that support validation and evidence of compliance to those standards

Why apply?

There has been a rapid increase in the use of multimedia sources for information dissemination in education, healthcare, business, government, and other settings. Concurrently, there has been an increase in the prevalence and participation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society including students, employees, and consumers of commercial goods and public services.

In response to the escalating accessibility needs of this population, many states are passing legislation—for example, the Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act—to establish policy parameters for digital accessibility. There are also several national mandates that address information technology accessibility, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

A barrier of achieving the goal of functional information accessibility is that many software developers, programmers, and information designers lack the necessary accessibility knowledge, skills, and tools they need to effectively perform their jobs. In addition, service providers and administrators often lack an understanding of how the various legislative acts and polices of information accessibility apply to their setting.

The College of Applied Health Sciences continues its pioneering efforts on behalf of the full inclusion of people with disabilities by developing one of the very first university-based professional certificates in information accessibility design and policy. At the completion of this certificate program, graduates will have relevant knowledge of policies governing information technology accessibility, along with the skills and tools to meet Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and create and/or convert digital information into accessible formats.

The program is approved by the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) for CAEC Professional Development Credits.