4.26.2012 Meeting

Facilitator: Nina Modi

Presenting: Alison May, Tommy Carroll, James McHaley

Note Takers: Jill Brazel/Nina Modi


Attendee Department
James McHaley
Norris University
Claire Kelly MSA
Tony Kirchmeier Off Campus
Mark D'Arienzo Housing
Chris Walker
Jill Brazel
Nina Modi
Lopa Patel Graduate Housing
Courtney Albinson
Bernard Foster
Safe Ride
Josh McKenzie Orientation and Parent Programming
Virginia Koch
Residential Life
Annaleah Tubbin Residential Life
Alison May Students With Disabilities
Betsy Gill University Career Services
Jeremy Hopkins University Career Services

Introduction of Attendees

Attendees were asked to:

  • Introduce themselves, including department and role
  • Provide expectations of the group meeting
Agenda Presenters
Introduction Nina Modi
Updates Nina Modi
Accessibility Update
Alison May
Accessibility Presentation
Tommy Carroll
Norris-Social Media James McHaley
Q & A Nina Modi

Introduction to Meeting

Welcome to the group and we appreciate the participation. Our goal for these monthly group meetings is to provide training, resources, information and guidance so that each department will have all the support to maintain and enhance their websites. We encourage everyone to attend as many meetings as possible. 

WCUG Updates

  • Seeking feedback from users on Social Media icons that Chris implemented on the UCS site. Everyone liked them and Nina asked that each department make sure their departments all agree and then Chris will work to implement for everyone. Later in the meeting Tommy Carroll mentioned that they should be easy to navigate.
  • We asked for feedback on the drop down navigation that was implemented on the Sustainability site and reminded everyone to check it out and get back to us with feedback from your departments so we can implement for everyone or make changes.
  • Provide feedback to Nina Modi, email address n-modi@northwestern.edu

Accessibility Updates

  • Alison thanked several departments for checking their 'alt tags' and making sure their images were accessible. She told us about her and Chris Walker speaking with Tommy Carroll at a Web Steering Committee meeting and Tommy going through the NU site and finding inaccessible content and showing everyone the things that make a difference when organizing your content on a site.
  • Any accessiblity questions can be sent to Alison May's email. Alison then introduced Tommy Carroll. Tommy is a blind student in the Medill School of Journalism in the class of 2015.

Accessibility Presentation

Tommy went over the importance of simplicity to the site design for users with a screen reader. Here are a few tips he gave to the group:

Guidelines for Overall Site Design

  • Don't overcomplicate your site
  • Make sure your site is well marked up, clear-cut, straight forward
  • Your pages should be consistently designed so he can go to any page and know where to go
  • Information should be easy to locate on the pages
  • Detailed titles to the pages and headings (ie. not just 'Northwestern', put the detail or department name first)
  • All things accesible also make your design works for mobile devices

Using Headers & Tables

Headers are important for the non-sighted user to distinguish what is the content of the page. The photo may say a lot to describe the content but without proper headers, alt tags and properly named links, the site can be confusing to the non-sighted. Make sure the user can understand the content.

Using JAWS, a commonly used screen reader, Tommy went through the UCS site and showed us all how it works. There are short cuts in the software that when the page is clearly marked up will help save a tremendous amount of time for the user's search time by jumping to certain links and headings on the page.

Tables can be a good way to organize data but a screen reader reads the headings and columns differently and it may not make sense to the visually impaired. Table headings need to be clear and detailed to understand the data it represents.

Here are some tips on headings, links and tables:

  • Don't use "click here" for a link as that doesn't tell the screen reader what the link goes to
  • Make sure links with the same name go to the same place
  • Just as sighted users 'scan' a page to look for what they want, make your pages 'scannable' to a screen reader
  • Use headings often to help break down and page and make it easy to determine what content is where.

Any questions or not sure if something is accessible? You can always contact Alison for help

Norris Center Presentation of Social Media Use in Their Departmtent

James McHaley went over the challenges and success of using social media to represent and promote Norris and the 'hub of activity' on campus.

First off the importance of having a 'brand statement' as well as a 'mission statement' that was unified throughout the staff and all of their endeavors. Secondly, coming up with the goals and strategies as well as a set of policies for the department is an integral part of a successful social media outreach.

Norris Goals & Strategies

  • add value to the NU community
  • promoting events & happenings at Norris
  • have a conversation-react, reply
  • don't take themselves to seriously

Norris Social Media Policies

  • be respectful
  • be accurate
  • be mindful of audience
  • keep personal views separate
  • keep confidentiality

Social Media Usage & Successes


Norris held a photo contest via Facebook that involved donations of food and offered an IPAD as a prize and the money they spent on that saved them money on how much they would have spent on conventional advertising to reach the same amount of people.

We had a brief discussion of the new 'Timeline' look to Facebook and the overall feeling was that it was a bit more cluttered than it used to be and Tommy found it difficult to follow with a screen reader.


Twitter is very useful for what is happening right now and the ability to have a conversation, reply and react quickly. They also find Twitter helpful for getting feedback quickly.

Norris started up #Meetmemondays to create an environment to have discussions, ask questions "when was your first..." etc., tell stories and get to know each other on a more personal level.

Norris has Twitter feeds on all the televisions at Norris.


Norris uses 4Square to promote food vendors with free items by checking in at a location.

Managing Social Media

  • They created a position for their deparment for someone to coordinate their social media 8 hours/week.
  • Hootsuite is best to schedule their tweets and keep Twitter lists and follow analytics.
  • Crowdbooster lets them asses WHEN is the best time to tweet based on their audience activity (18-22 year age group)


Nina thanked Tommy for all of his ongoing help and gave him a gift of appreciation. The topics for the upcoming meetings will cover how to use links, tables, word docs and pdfs and asked for users to please send her any thoughts of future meeting ideas.

You can reach Nina Modi anytime via email or phone anytime 847-467-2423.  Everyone is welcome to stay behind and chat.