Thursday, May 16, 2024

Three easy ways to boost your digital accessibility skills

A woman uses headphones, a large-print keyboard, and an oversized monitor.

By Elizabeth Rogers.

Last week the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) turned 25, and technology has become a lot more inclusive as a result. Is our digital world accessible yet? Well, there’s still a long way to go – but we can all play a part.

Reading WCAG can be a little daunting (and rather technical!) Instead, here are three ways you can boost your digital skills this Global Accessibility Awareness Day:

Choose a skill to practice

Not sure about the best practices for captioning videos, how to effectively structure headings in a document, or how to write meaningful alternative text for images on your website? There are many components to digital accessibility, but you don’t have to master them all at once. Choose one thing and practice it until it becomes part of your regular routine.

Now sure where to start? Think about what tasks you do most often, or what you’re the most curious about. Some of the most common issues in digital media involve colour contrast, heading structure, link text, alternative text and tables.

Try a new tool

You might have noticed a new accessibility checking tool pop up in the Waterloo Content Management System (WCMS 3) lately, or heard about SiteImprove rolling out across campus. These tools have tips and advice built in to help you learn as you create or remediate.

In addition, a lot of software and devices we use have built-in accessibility functionality – both for creating accessible content and for consuming that content (such as text-to-voice or high contrast mode.) While your experience won’t be the same as someone who uses these features regularly , it can help you better understand the many ways people engage with technology.

Follow disabled and neurodivergent creators

Understanding what challenges people face and how they do things can help us build better content and technology solutions. Disabled creators on LinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram and other channels share their experiences and insights to help raise awareness about disability. Many of them work in equity, diversity and inclusion and share tips and resources as well. You can also follow hashtags such as #GAAD, #a11y, #Accessibility or #InclusiveDesign.

If reading up on the latest technology is your thing, look for content from disabled reviewers too.

Remember, no one starts out an expert. Continuous learning and practice will help us create better online experiences for everyone.

Amplify Season 2: Centering Stories from the Margins

Amplify podcast logo featuring a microphone and mic cable.

A message from the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism. 

Our academic landscape is filled with many diverse narratives of students facing obstacles and adversities while completing their education at UWaterloo. The Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism (EDI-R) has created a platform to elevate these stories and pave the way for a more inclusive and empathetic understanding of the university experience.

Amplify: Centering Stories from the Margins is an empowering podcast that reminds us to refocus on the voices of UWaterloo students who are members of marginalized communities.

In season 2, we will be learning about student experiences navigating campus with a disability, accommodations, intersectionality, as well as personal challenges and triumphs.

This podcast strives to create a space where all students feel seen, heard, and validated as they contribute to a broader dialogue on equity by promoting awareness and encouraging understanding.

 Tune in to "Amplify" as we embark on a transformative journey, one conversation at a time.

CRE-MSD launches redeveloped Ontario MSD Prevention Guideline

A banner warning about Musculoskeletal disorders with two posable art statues in obvious discomfort.

A message from the Faculty of Health.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are a leading cause of lost time and injury claims in Ontario, negatively impacting health in the workplace. To combat this problem, the Ontario Health and Safety System has enlisted the University of Waterloo’s Centre of Research Expertise for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders (CRE-MSD) to develop and maintain the MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario.

With funding from the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD), CRE-MSD recently launched a redeveloped Ontario MSD Prevention Guideline. The re-launched Guideline is Ontario’s source of evidence-based MSD prevention resources to promote worker health and well-being. Through extensive collaboration with diverse stakeholders, including health and safety professionals, associations and researchers, CRE-MSD has spearheaded the transformation of the Guideline into a visually appealing, user-centred platform.

“Whether you’re an employee, manager, researcher, health and safety practitioner, or student, the redeveloped website provides easy access to practical strategies for preventing MSD,” said CRE-MSD Director Dr. Jack Callaghan. “It’s the most comprehensive research-based source of information for the prevention of MSD. It will help transform workplaces into safer, healthier environments, because work shouldn’t hurt!”

The Ontario MLITSD originally funded CRE-MSD to develop and implement the Ontario MSD Prevention Guideline website in 2016. The goal of this website is to create a freely accessible stand-alone platform so that MSD prevention content remains current and is widely available. The commitment of CRE-MSD to preventing MSD in the workplace is evident in the Centre’s internationally recognized expertise in this field, along with the broad adoption of the Guideline resources. The Guideline is a comprehensive source of MSD prevention information that applies to any size of organization or industry, equipping them with the information and tools needed to keep workers safe and healthy.

CRE-MSD is based in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences and is committed to improving the understanding and prevention of work-related MSD (such as sprain and strain injuries in body regions like the back, shoulder, and wrist), which are the most common workplace injuries. These disorders are preventable, and the hazards can be mitigated, yet MSD continue to account for more than one-third of all lost-time workplace injuries in Ontario.

Update to Policy 17- Quotations and Tenders

A balance sheet, calculator and pen.

A message from Finance.

Effective May 1, 2024, updates to Policy 17 – Quotations and Tenders went into effect. Purchases under $10,000 CAD will no longer need three quotations or a Purchase Order to proceed with purchasing. This will bring our institution in line with other comparable institutions and reduce the unnecessary administrative burden around procuring small dollar transactions. In addition, we are also introducing Guidelines for Quotations and Tenders. This document outlines detailed/specific exceptions to Policy 17, as well as providing additional flexibility for making minor updates in the future as Procurement requirements change. 

Other helpful information:

  • Transaction splitting is not permitted to circumvent the thresholds outlined in Policy 17 – Quotations and Tenders.
  • “Per transaction” refers to the total expected spend with the Supplier (projected annual spend multiplied by the maximum number of years the goods/services are projected to be provided by the Supplier) not by the singular purchase with that Supplier.

For more information, please read the full communication.

If you have questions, please contact the Procurement Team within Finance via email at

Register for the "From Targeting in Academia to Promoting Trust and Understanding" conference

Registration for the upcoming international conference, "From Targeting in Academia to Promoting Trust and Understanding," is now open. The conference will take place from June 27 to 28 at Federation Hall.

Link of the day

40 years ago: When Doves Cry

When and Where

The Student Health Pharmacy (located in the lower level of the Student Life Centre) is offering flu shots with no appointments needed daily from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Call 519-746-4500 or extension 33784 for more info. COVID shots will be available on appointment basis only. You can register online at

Warriors Youth Summer Camps. Basketball, Baseball, Football, Hockey, Multi-Sport and Volleyball. Register today!

Safeguarding Science workshop and more, throughout May and June. Public Safety Canada invites faculty, staff and students to attend a series of virtual event via MS Teams. Register to receive a link.

Food Truck Wednesday, Wednesday, May 8 to Wednesday, July 24, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Arts Quad.

Sip sustainably at Ev3rgreen Café during Eco Week, Monday, May 13 to Friday, May 17. Bring your reusable mug and enjoy a free fair-trade coffee or tea with any purchase.

Esports Gaming Lounge, Monday, May 13 to Thursday, May 16, 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Black & Gold Room.

Seedling Swap, Wednesday, May 15 and Thursday, May 16, Environment 3.

Clubs and Societies Days, Thursday, May 16, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Friday, May 17, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall.

University of Waterloo Knowledge Mobilization Community of Practice, “Bibliometrics and Research Impact and Thinking Through How to Improve KM Metrics”, Thursday, May 16, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Contact Nadine Quehl to request a Teams invitation or for more information. 

Faculty of Math Queer Film Series presents The Wedding Banquet, Thursday, May 16, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Sexual Violence Awareness Month Speaker Series, Thursday, May 16, 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., MS Teams.

Deadline to register for Centre for Extended Learning (CEL) "Getting Ready to Facilitate Online CoursesTA Training – Spring 2024" course, Tuesday, May 21.

Cheriton School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture Series, "Reflections on the Value of Visualization," featuring John Stasko, Professor, School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Tech, Wednesday, May 22, 10:00 a.m., DC 1302 and virtually over Zoom.

Dr. Craig Janes retirement celebration, Wednesday, May 22, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., EXP 1686. RSVP by Wednesday, May 15.

Victoria Day holiday, most university operations and buildings closed, Monday, May 20.

Warrior Rec Instructional Registration Deadline, Tuesday, May 21, 11:59 p.m. Other programs are ongoing. Find out more. 

All staff are invited to play Games @ Lunch, Wednesday, May 22, 12 noon to 1:00 p.m., DC 1301.

Foundations of Collaborative Leadership, Chapter one of the Community Leadership Certificate (CLC), Thursday, May 23, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (virtual).

Sexual Violence Awareness Month Speaker Series, Thursday, May 23, 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., MS Teams.

You @ Waterloo Day, Saturday, May 25.

Tri-Agencies webinar on Sensitive Research and Affiliations of Concern (STRAC) policy (in English), Tuesday, May 28, 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Register.

NEW - Waterloo Genomics Lunch and Learn Series: Illumina, Tuesday, May 28,12 noon to 1:30 p.m., B2-350. Please register.

Foundations of Collaborative Leadership, Chapter one of the Community Leadership Certificate (CLC), Wednesday, May 29, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (virtual).

Tri-Agencies webinar on Sensitive Research and Affiliations of Concern (STRAC) policy (in French), Thursday, May 30, 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Register.

Sexual Violence Awareness Month Speaker Series, Thursday, May 30, 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., MS Teams.

Generative Artificial Intelligence and the Literature Review, Wednesday, June 3, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., LIB 323 learning lab.

NEW - Inert Atmosphere Fabrication and RAC Capabilities Open House, Thursday, June 6, 11:45 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Research Advancement Centre (RAC).

Engineering Graduate Studies Fair, Wednesday, June 6, 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Engineering 7 second floor event space.

Indigenous Community Concert | Sultans of String "Walking Through the Fire", Monday, June 17, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Federation Hall.

PhD oral defences

Computer Science. Joseph Scott, "Meta-Solving via Machine Learning for Automated Reasoning." Supervisors, Dr. Vijay Ganesh, Dr. Jo Atlee. Thesis available from MGO - Oral defence Friday, May 17, 1:00 p.m., remote.

Systems Design Engineering. Kirsten Wright, "Financialization of the Housing Market: A Contribution to Modern Urban Rent Theory." Supervisors, Dr. Sean Goebey, Dr. Jangho Yang. Thesis available via SharePoint - contact to request a viewing link. Oral defence Wednesday, May 22, 8:00 a.m., remote.

Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering. Jeff McClure, "Physics-Based Pressure Field and Fluid Forcing Inference for Cylindrical Bluff Body Experiments." Supervisor, Dr. Serhiy Yarusevych. Thesis available via SharePoint - contact to request a viewing link. Oral defence Wednesday, May 22, 9:30 a.m., remote.

Combinatorics & Optimization. Nicholas Olson-Harris, "Some Applications of Combinatorial Hopf Algebras to Integro-Differential Equations and Symmetric Function Identities." Supervisor, Dr. Karen Yeats. Thesis available from MGO - Oral defence Wednesday, May 22, 1:00 p.m., MC6029 and online.

Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering. Julian Craig Peter Howarth, "Variable-Speed and Multi-Mode Solar Assisted Heat Pumps System Design and Controls Development." Supervisor, Dr. Michael Collins. Thesis available via SharePoint - contact to request a viewing link. Oral defence Thursday, May 23, 10:00 a.m., E5 3006.

Upcoming service interruptions

Stay up to date on service interruptions, campus construction, and other operational changes on the Plant Operations website. Upcoming service interruptions include:

  • Pathways connecting William Tutte Way and B.C. Matthews Hall closed for asphalt paving and repairs, Tuesday, May 7 extended to Friday, May 17 (weather dependent), pedestrian/bicycle and vehicle traffic to be re-routed around alternate pathways.

  • School of Pharmacy, Integrated Health Building fire alarm testing, Friday, May 17, 7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m., fire alarm will sound, building evacuation not required.
  • University Club, Bauer Warehouse, Avril Building fire alarm testing, Friday, May 17, 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., fire alarm will sound, building evacuation not required.
  • Douglas Wright Engineering, Rod Coutts Hall, South Campus Hall, Carl Pollock Hall, Graduate House fire alarm testing, Tuesday, May 21, 7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m., fire alarm will sound, building evacuation not required.
  • Bright Starts Co-operative Early Learning Centre fire alarm testing, Wednesday, May 22, 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., fire alarm will sound, building evacuation not required.
  • Engineering 7, School of Optometry, Columbia Icefield fire alarm testing, Wednesday, May 22, 7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m., fire alarm will sound, no building evacuation required.
  • UWP-Eby Hall, UWP-Wellesley Court, UWP-Wilmot Court, Claudette Millar Hall fire alarm testing, Wednesday, May 22, 1:00 p.m to 2:30 p.m., fire alarm will sound, building evacuation not required.
  • East Campus Hall, Engineering 5, Engineering 6 fire alarm testing, Friday, May 24, 7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m., fire alarm will sound, building evacuation not required.
  • Stratford Campus electrical shutdown, May 26, 9:00 a.m., all electrical power shut down for four hours
  • E7 Bicycle Shelter snow guard installation, Friday, May 31, areas around and under the E7 shelter will be blocked off for vehicle and personnel access.