Center for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence (CAFE)

Accessibility Champions

 Champions for Accessibility and Inclusivity logo

Creating excellent learning experiences for each student

We believe that the joy of learning, the freedom to grow, and the benefits of education are fundamental human rights at a university. Accessibility of course materials and Universal Design for Learning is essential for providing an equitable and inclusive learning environment for all Cal Poly Pomona students.

For that reason, in 2019, the Center for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence (CAFE) began a new initiative called eLearning Accessibility Champions (EACH), an initiative that would promote the intrinsic values that Cal Poly Pomona embraces.

In 2020, we are re-introducing it to the campus as Champions for Accessibility and Inclusivity (CHAI). This name change will reflect the ideals of Cal Poly Pomona more fully, not only addressing the different types of accessibility issues but other barriers to education.

Faculty who are willing to put in the very personal work to use universal design principles and make their course materials accessible because they believe that all students deserve a fair shot, they are our heroes.

The Champions for Accessibility and Inclusivity project allows us to recognize heroes and help other faculty become heroes. We want to create a network of empathy towards students who benefit from universal design and accessible course materials and towards faculty who provide those materials.

Champions for Accessibility and Inclusivity will:
  • Provide feedback to CAFE about the Fundamentals of Accessibility eCertificate, an all-new asynchronous, self-paced introductory course currently in development
  • Attend a beginning-of-semester “kick off” and follow-up monthly meetings (< 1 hour each) with CAFE to plan and review program details and strategies.
  • Offer at least one accessibility and one Quality Assurance related workshop per semester for your college, tailored to address your colleagues’ specific concerns. You can combine them into one session, as long as both topics are thoroughly covered. CAFE will help with content and logistics.
  • Send regular outreach (3-4 times per semester) messages to your college about accessibility, Quality Assurance, and CAFE resources. CAFE will provide template messages for you to customize.
  • Achieve an overall Blackboard Ally score of 85% or greater for at least one of your courses that is web-enhanced, hybrid, or online. CAFE will help you track this.
  • Nominate future Champions for Accessibility and Inclusivity!

    We anticipate that being a Champion for Accessibility and Inclusivity will require at least 30 hours over the academic year and may be more if your course materials need a lot of work to reach the 85% Ally score. That sounds like a lot of time but it’s only about three hours per month and you will get a ton of support. Keep reading…

This program is incredibly important to us. We believe that all students deserve an equal shot at success no matter what. To this end, CAFE will support you in many ways:

  • You’ll get professional development funds of $2,000 (partially supported by the Chancellor’s Office): 
    • $1,000 - Any time during the academic year upon achieving an overall Blackboard Ally score of 85% or greater for a single course 
    • $1,000 - Achievable at the end of Spring semester upon completion of other activities (must be completed in time for fiscal year deadlines) 
      • Contribute to Fundamentals of Accessibility eCertificate 
      • Attend monthly meetings 
      • Facilitate workshops each semester 
      • Send college outreach messages 
      • Nominate future Champions for your college 
    • Enhanced student assistance (Studio 6) and instructional design support for your classes. 
    • Campus recognition via outlets such as PolyCentric articles, the CAFE newsletter, and the CAFE Summer Institute. Plus, this is a university level service opportunity.

We’re looking for both full-time faculty or part-time faculty with a one-year contract who can commit to the program for the academic year. Champions need to teach at least one course in the academic year as online, hybrid, or web-assisted. Champions need to be enthusiastic Blackboard users!

To apply, fill out the online CHAI Application form.

Current Champions

Ann LaraAnn Lara, CCHM

Ann Lara has been teaching at the Collins College since 2012. She teaches Professional Work Experience, Hospitality Internship, and Disney Internship courses. Her professional highlights include creating a First Year Experience (FYE) program for Collins College students, the Pineapple Club, and developing an Industry Executive Mentor Program. She was awarded Best Advising Program in 2017, and joined the Wall of Cool 2020, for incorporating technology into her course. She is both an Ability Ally and PRIDE Ally certified. 

Anna SoperAnna Soper, AG

Dr. Anna Soper is an Assistant Professor in the Plant Science Department in the College of Agriculture who began teaching online courses in 2016. She has participated in many online course development workshops sponsored by CAFE including, “Flipping the Classroom.” Anna also had the opportunity to participate in the Summer Remote Course Redesign (RCD) and was a facilitator for the Fall RCD. She is excited to join the CHAI Champions to promote accessibility and UDL.

Annette KohAnnette Koh, ENV

Annette Koh from the College of Environmental Design (ENV) teaches URP 3050 as a hybrid class. For the asynchronous component, she assigns documentaries available through the library with accessibility features built in (captions and transcripts for English-language films). This is especially meaningful during the module on disability justice! She is continuing to learn how to make UDL a core pedagogical feature, whether via multilingual digital media or screen reader friendly presentations.

Denise KennedyDenise Kennedy, CEIS

Dr. Denise Kennedy from College of Education and Integrative Studies (CEIS) has taught online since 2009 and continually works toward improving her teaching through trainings and workshops. Recently, she completed QM training which helps educators deliver the promise of quality online learning opportunities to learners. She utilizes different learning tools to support students. One example is “My Virtual Child,” a simulation where students raise a virtual child to experience a real-world application of what they are learning in class.

Eileen WallisEileen Wallis, CLASS

Dr. Eileen Wallis is a history professor from the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences (CLASS). Her research interests are the history of California and the American west with a focus on race, gender, class, and disability and is currently conducting research for a book. Teaching hybrid and online courses for more than 10 years, she is committed to promoting accessible learning experiences for students, including offering class materials in a variety of formats; subtitling lectures and videos; and meeting students’ accommodation needs.

Jun MyersJun Myers, CBA

Dr. Jun Myers is a professor in the IBM Department at the College of Business. She served as the Chair of the College Assessment Committee and Dean’s Fellow of Assessment Innovation (2019-2020). She joined the CHAI program in 2020 to work with the CAFE team to continue promoting accessibility and inclusivity to business students and faculty. In Fall 2020, she began teaching IBM 3012 Principles of Marketing Management, a fully remote hybrid mega-section class assisted with Blackboard Ally.

Stephanie Marin RothmanStephanie Rothman, SCI

Stephanie Rothman has been teaching in the Biology Department for 10 years. An advocate of (UDL), she has strived to increase the class accessibility to improve her students’ learning experiences. She has designed two fully online classes: Life Science and Human Sexuality, recognized on the Wall of COOL. She is also the recipient of the Bio Department Award for Teaching Excellence, the Diversity Champion Award, and a finalist for the College of Science Distinguished Teaching Award.

Zahra SotoudehZahra Sotoudeh, ENG

Dr. Zahra Sotoudeh is an Associate Professor in the Aerospace Engineering Department. She is enthusiastic about teaching and passionate about serving the diverse CPP student population. She has advocated for new pedagogies like active learning techniques and flipped classrooms in her department. She has used UDL and QM guidelines to create an inclusive learning environment and strives to create accessible course material for all of her courses.

Past Champions

Dale McCabeDale McCabe, SCI

Dale McCabe started teaching online courses for the Biological Sciences Department in 2008 with the assistance of the instructional designers at CAFE. In 2010, he was selected for the Wall of COOL (Celebrating Outstanding Opportunities for Learning) for his introductory biology course for nonmajors. He participated in two Summer Institutes for online course development, numerous seminars, worked with CAFE to create accessible materials for his classes, and has served as a CHAI Champion to promote accessibility and universal design. 

Denisa Chatman-RileyDenisa Chatman-Riley, CLASS

Dr. Denisa Chatman-Riley has been a lecturer in English and Modern Languages in the College of Letter’s, Arts, and Social Sciences (CLASS) for more than 14 years. She's made it part of her mission to assure maximum accessibility and equal access to quality education for students, no matter their style of learning. Denisa has participated in CAFE’s Engaging the Digital Student Initiative (EDSI), Designing Outstanding Learning Centered Experiences (DOLCE), and she helps other faculty as a Champion of Accessibility and Inclusivity (CHAI).

Gisell Navarro-CruzGiselle Navarro-Cruz, CEIS

Dr. Giselle Navarro-Cruz is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Studies in the College of Education and Integrative Studies (CEIS). She is passionate about enhancing access and quality to early childhood education (ECE) by using a funds of knowledge framework. She supports the student experience and is an avid learner striving to create a learning environment that is not only inclusive but also equitable through the creation of accessible course content.

Greg PlacenciaGreg Placencia, ENG

Dr. Greg Placencia from the College of Engineering believes designing to enhance human abilities and reduce limitations is at the heart of human factors engineering. He considers ability-based and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principleswhen designing classes, and uses Bb Ally and other tools he learned from the Center for Academic Faculty Excellence (CAFE). Greg also teaches students about ability, such as what it’s like to use a wheelchair on campus and doing experiments using all sensesto see how they can be impacted.

Kim MillerKim Miller, AG

Dr. Kim Miller is an Associate Professor in the Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture and faculty supervisor of the Ag Science major. Providing high quality, effective and accessible materials for all students in all courses is a top priority. She was an early adopter of Blackboard (Bb) Ally, utilizing the program every semester to ensure all students are included equally. She never knows which students might need the alternative formats of course materials, but wants them ready for when they do!

Li GeLi Ge, CCHM

Dr. Li Ge is an Assistant Professor from the Collins College of Hospitality Management. Learning about the challenges some students face when attempting to access education resources has motivated her to provide a more equitable and inclusive learning environment for her students. As a CHAI Champion, she received support from CAFE to convert her course materials into accessible formats. She also learned about many best practices in course design and teaching from other faculty fellows, making for a great learning experience.

Maha GhosnMaha Ghosn, CBA

Maha Ghosn joined College of Business’ International Business and Marketing (IBM) department in 2014. To ensure educational excellence and increase student engagement and achievement in her marketing research and analysis classes, she has committed to a lifelong professional development that promotes inclusivity, equity, and access to all students. In addition to earning Association of College and University Educator’s (ACUE) Effective College Instruction credentials, she recently became a Quality Matters’ (QM) Peer Reviewer and is planning to pursue a doctoral degree in education.