MSU Information Technology’s New DigitalX Team Merges Accessibility with Learning Design

Photo: Michael Hudson, director, Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities speaking at the MSU IT Digital Accessibility Conference after the DigitalX announcement.

Michael Hudson presenting at the ITnext Accessibility conference.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State University is blazing a new path in the field of digital accessibility with the formation of a new Digital Experience Team, known as DigitalX.

The newly formed DigitalX team is the product of a partnership between the Digital Content and Accessibility team and Learning Design team at MSU. The purpose of this collaboration is to help students, faculty, and staff create digital experiences that are accessible to everyone at the university both digitally and in the classroom. This team has already begun work in this area by consulting for units, where they implement best practices like making digital content usable by the visually impaired.

The DigitalX team is led by Senior Manager Nate Evans. He said his mission and goals for inclusion mesh well with MSU’s overall mission.

“MSU was founded with a land-grant mission, with a purpose to expand opportunity based on merit, to find practical application of research and innovation, and lift public service as a key value,” said Evans. “Digital access and inclusion are fundamental to fulfilling this mission, and a pathway to make MSU IT and our campus a more inclusive community.”

The roots of DigitalX began with the formation of the Digital Content and Accessibility Team (DCAT) in 2014. Since that time, MSU’s mission to increase digital access has continued to grow in importance. The team now consists of 12 full-time professionals, including accessibility specialists, instructional designers, and media producers.

The DigitalX team will be working to improve accessibility standards with digital tools, course design, and media design throughout the university. There are three main components to the DigitalX team’s services: accessibility (including web review, course development, and evaluation and purchasing), academic technology consultation (including technology training and integration, course design and development, and project scoping), and media production (including video, audio, and graphic design).

Evans said accessibility addresses how our users access electronic information, and how faculty, developers, and other content creators can ensure that digital experiences can be used by everyone without barriers. Some examples include closed captioning on videos or increasing the contrast between text and background to make them easier to read.

MSU Chief Information Officer Rob McCurdy announced the formation of the new team at the MSU IT Digital Access and Inclusion Conference in May. He said, “We are continually working to make our websites and other digital experiences more accessible and usable for everyone. The DigitalX team is designed to provide more holistic support for MSU. This is an area where we are proud to lead the way.”