IU Kokomo ranked No. 1 for web accessibility

By switching to a more proactive service model, the web services team helps IU meet its inclusivity goals

Isn’t it nice when hard work pays off? Just ask IU Kokomo’s Johnathan Grant and Kathy Kennedy, who over the past few years have worked to make accessibility and inclusive design a priority for their campus websites. 

In December 2020, the Higher Ed in 4k Project named IU Kokomo No. 1 in the nation for web accessibility—out of over 3,800 institutions evaluated. The 4K Project documents the progress of U.S. higher education institutions’ efforts to improve web accessibility. 

“I am so proud of my team and happy to see their efforts recognized,” said Grant, associate director of web services, University Information Technology ServicesKokomo. “I think it really shows our commitment, that we’ve changed our business process—and it’s improved our outcomes.” 

A photo of Johnathan Grant.

Johnathan Grant, associate director of web services, University Information Technology ServicesKokomo

The impressive ranking is a direct result of a paradigm shift in website maintenance initiated by Grant and Kennedy in 2016. That year, IU President Michael A. McRobbie mandated that all new university websites meet the accessibility standards set forth by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA. Existing websites would be required to meet accessibility standards but would be prioritized for review and compliance. 

There was a problem though. The UITS—Kokomo web services team was using a ticket-based model of service, meaning they only took action when a ticket was received. In a nutshell, that meant that if no ticket was received, no attention was paid to a client’s web pages.  

“Some clients didn’t put in a ticket for a year or more at a time,” Grant said. “That meant some areas of our website were outdated by several years—and potentially inaccessible for people with disabilities.” 

A photo of Kathy Kennedy.

Kathy Kennedy, UITS—Kokomo web customer and content manager

Kennedy and Grant knew there had to be a better way. They decided to take a more proactive approach to website maintenance, and their web review process was born. By regularly engaging web customers, instead of waiting for them to reach out, the team was able to review or remove outdated content and remove, remediate, or provide accessible alternatives for inaccessible content. 

We wrote our plan, got it vetted by our marketing department and campus leaders, and started scheduling our first web reviews,” said Kennedy, UITS—Kokomo web customer and content manager. “We learned along the way, and made adjustments for the next round. This No. 1 ranking proves that our process really works!”