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Resources for Educators

Breaking Down Barriers

Stories & Resources: Community, Culture and Accessibility

May 2021

This conference is an opportunity to engage in best practices in moving your instruction and your campus to a more inclusive culture. Each Friday, you will have the opportunity to engage with expert presenters that highlight and celebrate being accessible, designing with educational technologies that work for everyone, working towards institutional compliance, and designing your course to have a focus on inclusive course design. Not only will you be engaged and hear from experts, you'll also hear from your peers and your students. Each Friday begins with a keynote presentation followed by the option of selecting one of three tracks during the Zoom session. Choose to attend a lightning round with four, 15-minute presentations, a panel presentation track or, hear more from the keynote presenter. Afterwards, engage with participants all month long in our back-channel chat. We hope you'll join us as we Break Down the Barriers and share stories and resources to help you and your campus on your accessibility journey.

Attend the Event

The Zoom link to attend all four the sessions, 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, is:

Keynote & Featured Speakers

Thomas Tobin, Ph.D.
Program Area Director for Distance Teaching & Learning, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Thomas J. Tobin, Ph.D.

Thomas J. Tobin is the Program Area Director for Distance Teaching & Learning on the Learning Design, Development, & Innovation (LDDI) team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as an internationally recognized speaker and author on topics related to quality in technology-mediated education, especially copyright, evaluation of teaching practice, academic integrity, and accessibility/universal design for learning.

Before joining UW-Madison, Tobin served for five years as the Coordinator of Learning Technologies in the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and spent seven years in the Learning and Development arm of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.

Since the advent of online courses in higher education in the late 1990s, Tom's work has focused on using technology to extend the reach of higher education beyond its traditional audience. He advocates for the educational rights of people with disabilities and people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

He holds a Ph.D. in English literature, a second master's degree in information science, a professional project management certification, a master online teacher certification, Quality Matters certification, and recently completed his Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC) certification (he tells his nieces and nephews that he is in 42nd Grade).

Tom was named to Ed Tech Magazine's 2020 "Dean's List" of Educational Technology Influencers, and he serves on the editorial boards of InSight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching and the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration.

His books include

  • Evaluating Online Teaching: Implementing Best Practices (2015) with Jean Mandernach and Ann H. Taylor.
  • The Copyright Ninja (2017).
  • Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education (2018) with Kirsten Behling.
  • Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers (2020) with Katie Linder and Kevin Kelly.

Tom was also proud to represent the United States on a Spring 2018 Fulbright Scholar fellowship, under which he helped Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, Hungary to develop its first faculty-development program, and he provided workshops and training to twelve other colleges, universities, and military programs throughout Hungary.

Dawn Monroe
Certified Microsoft Office Specialist

Dawn Monroe

Dawn Monroe empowers business professionals with simplified technical training. As an educator for more than 26 years, Dawn translates technical concepts in a fun way that encourages ongoing skill development. From beginner to advanced, she engages her audiences, both remotely and in-person. Dawn is a certified Microsoft Office Specialist Master (MOSM), Microsoft Certified Educator (MCE), Modern Classroom Certified Trainer (MCCT), Certified Virtual Educator (CVE) and Certified Virtual Presenter (CVP).

Robert Gibson, Ed.D.
Director of Learning Technologies
Emporia State University

Robert Gibson, Ed.D.

Rob has served as the Director of Learning Technologies at Emporia State University for 12 years and also is a lecturer for the department of Instructional Design and Technology. Rob recently completed a national certification in Assistive Technology Applications through California State University, Northridge. He has several publications in competency-based education and best practices for mobile learning. Rob holds an Ed.D. in Instructional Technology and Distance Education and an MBA.

Vance Martin, Ph.D.
Executive Policy Advisor for Accessibility
University of Illinois System, Board of Trustees Office

Vance Martin, Ph.D.

Vance S. Martin, Ph.D., is the Executive Policy Advisor for Accessibility for the University of Illinois, Board of Trustees Office. In this role he works with the system offices, as well as all three campuses to advise and assist with accessibility issues and needs. Previously Dr. Martin served as the Campus Accessibility Specialist for the University of Illinois at Springfield, from 2017 to 2020. In this position he trained faculty and staff on accessibility, and led a team which created accessible files for faculty and staff. Prior to that he held a faculty position at Parkland College in instructional design. For over fifteen years he has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in history, humanities, education and technology. He has taught using in-person, online, and hybrid formats. He has over fifteen years of experience in accessibility, and curriculum and instructional design. Dr. Martin's research looks at technology use in education, social justice, and the intersection of the two. As a post-doc at the University of Illinois, he worked on the redesign of teacher education programs in the College of Education, and helped to develop a leadership training program in partnership with Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. He also worked on a collaborative international project to deliver educational content to secondary students in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, via cell phones.


May 7 - Advocacy
10:00 Keynote: Thomas Tobin, Ph.D. "Why Accessibility is "Step Zero" toward Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion" (Recording)
11:00 Track 1: Lightning Round Discussions (Recording)
Track 2: Fireside Chat Conversations (No Recording)
Track 3: Student Panel on Accessibility (Recording)

May 14 - Inclusive and Accessible Educational Technologies
10:00 Featured Speaker: Dawn Monroe (Recording)
Handouts:Accessibility Handout | Accessible Document Design Handout
11:00 Track 1: Lightning Round Discussions (Recording)
Track 2: Fireside Chat Conversations (Recording)
Track 3: Follow up discussion with featured speaker (Recording)

May 21 - Legal, Timelines, and Institutional Governance
10:00 Featured Speaker: Robert Gibson, Ed.D. (Recording)
11:00 Track 1: Lightning Round Discussions (Recording)
Track 2: Fireside Chat Conversations (Recording)
Track 3: Follow up discussion with featured speaker (Recording)

May 28 - Inclusive Course Design
10:00 Featured Speaker: Vance Martin, Ph.D. (Recording)
11:00 Track 1: Lightning Round Discussions (Recording)
Track 2: Fireside Chat Conversations
Track 3: Follow up discussion with featured speaker (Recording)

For more information, contact Jeff Newell -