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Case Study: Transforming Accessibility Training at Providence College

Providence College logo in black.

Institution Overview

Providence College is a private Catholic university in Providence, Rhode Island. Offering 47 undergraduate majors and 17 graduate programs, the current total student population is 4,756, which includes undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students.

A former client of Siteimprove with WordPress as their content management system, Providence College has been using DubBot since 2022. Providence College uses DubBot to test content across 128 sites and 7 Page Sets. They test content for accessibility and other core web governance issues, including 15 custom Policies. 

DubBot is managed through the Web Services team at Providence College. The primary administrators for DubBot are Dan Demmons, Director of Web Services, and Kerri Hicks, Assistant Director for Web Development and Web Accessibility. Providence College Web Services is a small team comprised of Dan, Kerri, a developer, and a support specialist. 

Inside DubBot, Dan, Kerri, and their team manage 179 active users. Overall, they support 300+ Web Editors in maintaining and updating content across 140+ sites.

Before DubBot

Web Services needed to delegate basic web maintenance (broken links, misspellings, etc.) and fundamental accessibility issues to the Web Editors across campus. To help accomplish this, the team attempted to train the Web Editors on Siteimprove, but that proved to be difficult.

Dan Demmons said, "We tried a one-on-one approach with Siteimprove, but it did not work out - it was just too clunky and tough for the non-technical folks to learn. While we did have some users adopt it, it was a small fraction (maybe 5%) of our editors."

Dan continued, "We'd made repeated attempts to delegate responsibility for basic site upkeep and accessibility tasks via the previous platform to no avail - it was just too complex for our users to wrap their heads around. Pair that with very poor, unresponsive customer service."

After DubBot

The team set its focus on researching a replacement platform, and according to Dan, "DubBot leaped to the top of the stack." The team liked DubBot's simplicity and ease of use. Dan continues, "DubBot is easy-to-use, intuitive, engaging, and easy for non-technical people to understand/use. It's a far superior tool."

Since making the switch to DubBot, the Web Services team has set up a robust training requirement, which is easily scalable and repeatable. To access DubBot, Web Editors must watch the system training video provided by DubBot and take a quiz. The test is intentionally not completely multiple-choice. This was done to ensure that Web Editors were fully engaged with the content. The team looks for users who know the answers posed to them and aren't just guessing.

The following is a screenshot of what a Web Editor could expect to see for DubBot's training.

Screenshot of the DubBot Training Video & Quiz instruction page at Providence College. The information includes instructions for watching the DubBot training video and taking a required quiz.

According to Kerri, "The most successful part of the process is the personal email that the Web Editor receives after taking the test. The email includes corrections to questions answered incorrectly and explains why the answer was incorrect."

Web Editors are instructed to never ignore accessibility, best practices, or broken link issues without first contacting the Providence College Web Services office. Web Editors are also encouraged to reach out directly to Kerri with any questions or concerns. She explains, "This helps them recognize that yes, someone is keeping an eye on things and is also here to help."

We took screenshots of topics provided to the Web Editors by the Web Services team. The full site can be found on Web Service's website.

Screenshot from the Providence Web Services Guides & Tutorials webpage. Available topics include Writing Alternative Text, Writing Link Text, Add Alternative Text in Wordpress and Headings & Accessibility.

Screenshot from the Providence Web Services Why create accessible content? webpage. Available topics include Users of Screen Readers, Users on the Autism Spectrum, Users with Low Vision or Colorblindness, Users Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, Users with Dyslexia and Users with Physical or Motor Disabilities.

The Results

Since this training requirement became a standard, Dan and Kerri report that 100% of staff and faculty who are web editors can access DubBot and receive appropriate DubBot reports. 

We asked Dan and Kerri to summarize the outcome of the training requirement. Here's what they told us:

  1. Dan: "It has minimized the number of redundant questions that we get. With a small team, time is precious, and answering the same questions over and over again is tedious and time-consuming."
  2. Kerri: "The training has created a level of accountability for our editors and gives us the tools to keep an eye on who's making good progress and who might need a personal boost."

  3. Dan: "It put the responsibility for site upkeep on the content owners where it should be. They know their content; we don't. DubBot is a fantastic tool that encourages ownership in their content/sites while also taking some of the workload off my team."

  4. Kerri: "We maintain positive relationships with our editors, and DubBot is part of that support that helps us provide them with the data they need."

  5. Dan: It has been met with "zero pushback" from editors.

Providence College highlights that training users to understand the why of accessibility is essential. Enabling users allows small teams to do more. To enable more DubBot users to have the success that Providence College has seen with its training program, DubBot now provides access to the DubBot Learning Center to all DubBot subscribers. DubBot subscribers can use the Learning Center to gain practical knowledge on how to use DubBot, common topics in digital accessibility, and manual testing at no additional cost. DubBot's Learning Center will be an excellent resource for self-paced learners and, like Providence College, can provide the prerequisite training and certification for provisioning access to the DubBot application.

Maggie Vaughan, CPACC
Content Marketing Practitioner