Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA receives Desire2Excel Award

April 8, 2015 - University Marketing Communications
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Stephen F. Austin State University has been recognized for its commitment to educating all students - regardless of physical challenges - with the 2014 Desire2Excel Award for Accessibility.

The award is presented by D2L, a global leader in educational technology and the creator of Brightspace, an integrated learning platform used by SFA faculty members and students. The company lauded SFA for demonstrating how such partnerships and technology can make education available to more learners.

"It is one of D2L's core beliefs that education should be accessible to all," said John Baker, president and CEO of D2L. "Brightspace was built and continues to grow with accessibility in mind. We strive to make our integrated learning platform easy for people to navigate and understand using assistive technologies or any and all devices that support their needs."

A large part of the university's dedication to accessibility is ensuring that faculty members are provided with professional development that includes how to make instructional materials accessible, according to Dr. Randy McDonald, director of SFA's Center for Teaching and Learning.

"We conduct rigorous professional development for faculty members concerning the design of online courses, and we continually collaborate with the SFA Office of Disability Services to help ensure the needs of each and every student are met," McDonald said.

"The university is able to provide accessible support to students and faculty members using the Brightspace integrated learning platform," McDonald added. Led by Andra Floyd, SFA's D2L support team includes student workers who specialize in providing accessible tech support.

SFA's focus on accessibility for all students is "part of our DNA," said Janet Kamps, distance education coordinator at the Center for Teaching and Learning. She said that commitment stems from the institution's origins as a teacher's college.

"Personalized instruction, mentoring, and respect for and inclusion of all university community members are foundations of our university," she said. "Brightspace has played a crucial role in enabling us to live up to those ideals and ensure that students' access to a quality education is not obstructed. Taking responsibility for accessibility is foundational here - it's something we all do."

D2L partners with thought-leading organizations to improve learning through data-driven technology that helps deliver a personalized experience to every learner, regardless of geography or ability. D2L's open and extensible platform is used by more than 1,100 clients and 15 million individual learners in higher education, K-12, health care, government and the enterprise sector, including Fortune 1000 companies. The company has operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Brazil and Singapore.