Accessibility Tip of the Week: Posting documents online

Laptop computer, paper with various pie charts and metrix charts, notepad, and hand with pen as if taking notes

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares tips and resources for posting documents online.

When preparing to post content to SchoolMessenger or Schoology, it is important to consider the document format. From a broad perspective, a document may be posted as on-page content (HTML), or as an attachment.

On-Page Content (HTML)

Posting directly on the page is the simplest and most accessible way to publish content, and thus, is the preferred method. This is because HTML provides a programmatic accompaniment to the text, allowing all users to easily perceive and interact with the content. More complex elements, such as tables or images, require some minor additional markup, but text alone can simply be pasted onto the page. The district’s Website Accessibility Resources page offers quick-start guides on how to post accessible on-page content to both Schoology or SchoolMessenger.


Beyond posting on-page content, a document may also be posted as an external attachment. PDFs are the preferred format for attachments, as a PDF contains a similar programmatic accompaniment as HTML, and is therefore highly accessible.

While other document types, such as Word or PowerPoint files may contain accessibility features, they should be exported to PDF to ensure they can be perceived by the largest possible audience. The district Website Accessibility Resources page offers guides on creating accessible documents in these software suites, as well as a guide on how to correctly export to PDF.

By posting documents as on-page content or accessible PDFs, we can ensure the largest possible segment of our community is able to fully enjoy our services. If working with unique file types not covered on the Website Accessibility Resources page, please reach out to Robert Hardy at Ext. 6105 in the Communications Department with questions.

Is retirement a long way off? Learn about your future at a free DRS benefits summit

Open notebook with words "My Plan" at the top and person preparing to write with a penIs retirement a long way off? Attend a free Department of Retirement System’s Benefits Summit to learn more about your future plans.

Although DRS Benefits Summits are open to all employees, they are designed to encourage retirement planning for employees who are in the early- to middle-stages of their careers.

For more information and to register, see the attached flier or visit the Benefits Summits page of the DRS website. Employees may also access the Benefits Summits page of the DRS website.  Location information will be provided at the time of registration.

If you have questions about registration or need to cancel a reservation, please email

Congratulations OSD Classified School Employees of the Year

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Denise Pigue, behavior technician at Garfield Elementary School

Congratulations to three Olympia School District employees selected to receive this year’s OSD Classified School Employee of the Year award.

The employees learned of the honor during surprise announcements at impromptu morning staff meetings. The news was greeted with applause, standing ovations and hugs.

This year’s honorees are:

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Travis King, behavior technician at Centennial Elementary School

Travis King, paraeducator at Centennial Elementary School. This is King’s fifth year at Centennial Elementary, where he works as a behavior technician.

Denise Pigue, paraeducator at Garfield Elementary School. Pigue is in her fourth year at Garfield Elementary School, where she works as a behavior technician. She has worked for the district since 2008.

Todd Thornton, head custodian at Roosevelt Elementary School. Todd has worked as head custodian at Roosevelt for four years and for the district since 2006.

All three will be honored at a special recognition ceremony during the December 10, 2018 Olympia School Board meeting. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Knox Administrative Center, 1113 Legion Way S.E., Olympia.

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Todd Thornton, head custodian at Roosevelt Elementary School

The annual award recognizes employees who consistently demonstrate outstanding work performance, professional leadership and collaboration.

In September, the Olympia School District opened nominations for Classified School Employee of the Year. The district invited staff, students, parents and community members to submit nominations.

A screening committee made up of OSD employees and community members reviewed the submissions and recommended the three names to Superintendent Patrick Murphy.

Murphy, Assistant Superintendent Nancy Faaren, School Board President Frank Wilson, Board Vice President Joellen Wilhelm and school leaders announced the winners and presented them with flowers.

Classified School Employee of the Year is an annual statewide awards program through the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. It begins with local nominations from school districts throughout Washington. Those individuals have a chance of then being named a regional Classified School Employee of the Year, which allows them to advance to the state competition.

The State Superintendent of Public Instruction recognizes the regional finalists and announces the state Classified School Employee of the Year at the annual spring award ceremony at the Old Capitol Building in Olympia.

The state award winner and regional finalists are invited to several annual recognition events including the Governor’s Reception for Exceptional Educators.

Kudos to our two newest Everyday Heroes!

Everyday Heroes Logo with the words: Celebrating OSD EmployeesEveryday Heroes is a regular feature in this staff blog. Remember to submit names of employees districtwide who have done something deserving of encouragement and praise. Give a shout out to one of your colleagues at your school or support building and watch for it to appear in an upcoming Everyday Heroes blog post.

Here are our newest honorees:

Everyday Hero
Camille Nunez, Behavior Technician, Boston Harbor ES

We are so fortunate to have Camille Nunez as our Behavior Tech at Boston Harbor Elementary School. She is the perfect mix of calm, care and clear expectations we want for all children, and she is so funny. Ms. C, as she is lovingly referred to around here, finds the fun and good in everything. She’s flexible, adaptable, kind and has a keen awareness of others and their needs. There have been many times when Ms. C has saved my day, or taught me something new by her example. She adeptly runs reading and intervention groups, manages a lunchroom packed with kids, supports preschool children in their classroom, keeps kids safe and happy at recess, and works on individual and specific behavior goals. Camille is a creative educator, and a really important part of our staff at BHES.  Thank you, Camille, for all you do for our kids and for being a wonderful colleague.
Submitted by Beth Wilson, Teacher, Boston Harbor ES

Everyday Hero
Breanne Keys, Restorative Center Specialist, Olympia HS

Breanne Keys is the Restorative Center (RC) Specialist at Olympia High School.  In merely eight months since her arrival at OHS last year second semester, she has developed a responsive system for students experiencing all levels of behavior concerns.  She proactively works with all stakeholders and continues to develop services in the RC based on feedback, evidence based practice, and outcomes. She monitors discipline data to sharpen our schoolwide systems of support, as well as, identify areas needing more prevention or re-teaching of behavior expectations. Her passion for Restorative Practice is off the charts! She extends her reach to staff by Focus group facilitation, trainings at staff meetings, facilitation of classroom circles, and restorative meetings between staff and students. She continually impresses me with her constant reflection to improve services to students and professional practice. Her development of the RC and ability to connect with staff and students has decreased the number of students serving their suspensions at home. She is a change agent for improved culture and climate at OHS!
Submitted by the Olympia HS Administrative Team

How to nominate an Everyday Hero

  • Email the Communications and Community Relations Department ( a few sentences, and no more than 200 words, about why the person deserves recognition. It’s easiest to write as if speaking directly to the colleague, such as “Thank you for helping with…” or “I really appreciated when you…”
  • Write Everyday Heroes in the subject heading of the email.
  • Include your first and last name as the person submitting the comments.
  • Include the first and last name of the OSD employee you are recognizing.
  • Include the job title and work location (school or department) of the person you are recognizing.

All submissions will be posted in this blog on a weekly basis and archived each week.

We can’t wait to hear about all of our Everyday Heroes, because we know that every day our teachers, bus drivers, child nutrition staff, custodial employees, paraeducators, school and district office staff, and others are doing amazing work on behalf of students.

Auditions for OSD Players Mary Poppins musical are Monday, November 19

A reminder that auditions for this year’s OSD Players musical Mary Poppins are set on Monday, November 19. All OSD employees and their family members who are at least 10 years old are welcome to audition for a part in this year’s production.

To audition, please review the following attachments and complete the audition form. It is important that everyone who is interested comes to the audition on November 19, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Washington Middle School, 3100 Cain Rd. S.E., Olympia.

Those interested in a lead role (see link to character list below) must also come to an audition on Tuesday, November 20, 6:30-9 p.m. at Washington Middle School.

One attachment below describes the Mary Poppins audition process, including rehearsal and show dates. Another is a listing of Mary Poppins characters, and the third is an audition form to download, print, fill out and bring with you to the auditions.

Performances of Mary Poppins are scheduled at 7 p.m. on February 1 and 2, and at 2 p.m on February 2 and 3 at Olympia High School.

Tips for certificated staff to prepare for launch of Schoology Parent Access on November 30

Infographic showing four ways to make the most of Schoology Parent Access, including add due dates and events to the calendar; use course updates; create a folder of course documents; and make a page about you and your contact infoA reminder that Schoology Parent Access will be made available for families starting on Friday, November 30.  Schoology Parent Access allows parents/guardians to view their child’s course activity, as well as materials and information posted by the teacher. If you have any questions, please contact Sharyn Merrigan, Bob O’Donnell or the OSD Help Desk at Ext. 6172.

Parents/guardians will be able to:

  • View their own child(ren)’s courses and groups.
  • View their own child(ren)’s profile, including blog, portfolio and badges.
  • View their own child(ren)’s Schoology calendar to see assignments and events.
  • View their own child(ren)’s activity in courses or groups.
  • View teacher provided materials, posts and comments in their own child(ren)’s courses.
  • View media albums.
  • View tests/quizzes if they are visible to students.
  • Sign up to receive a daily or weekly emailed report of their child(ren)’s work in Schoology.
  • Sign up to receive notifications if an assignment is overdue.

Parents/guardians will not be able to:

  • View scores and grades.
  • Interact with materials.
  • Complete assignments or assessments.
  • Add posts or comments.
  • View posts or comments added by other students.
  • View student or teacher Google files (depending on share settings).

In anticipation of Schoology Parent Access, staff should:

  • Review posted course materials for personal information about students (i.e. full names, photos).
  • Review posted course materials to ensure accessibility compliance.
  • Ensure that test/quiz visibility settings are as expected.
  • Ensure all photos or videos posted that show or name students have FERPA approval.
  • Ensure that Media Albums (a material type) contain files uploaded by the teacher only.
  • Unpublish or delete Media Albums that contain files uploaded by students due to visibility problem (Note: students may share files through Discussion posts instead, as parents will only see their own child’s work).

Once Schoology Parent Access is enabled, teachers/course admin will be able to view their courses as a parent by clicking on Course Options –> View course as [parent]

On November 30, parents/guardians will receive an informational email from the OSD Communications Department, followed shortly by an email from Schoology informing them of their provisioned account log-in information.

To learn more and see examples of communication about Schoology Parent Access that will be sent to families, see an email sent to OSD certificated employees on November 5 from Instructional Technology.

Website Accessibility Tip of the Week: The increased efficiency of true headings

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about the increased efficiency of true headings in documents.

Outside of enhancing access to content, one of the benefits of creating accessible documents is the greater control it gives to the document author.

Many Word and Docs users are self-taught, and as such, learned to create titles and headings by enlarging the font, changing the alignment, bolding the text, and occasionally underlining it. This process is cumbersome at best, requiring each heading to be styled individually. It also doesn’t provide an accompanying programmatic markup for the software. Is the content bolded for emphasis, or is it bolded as a title? Curious readers want to know.

By creating true headings in the accessible way, using the heading styles in Word or Google Docs, the efficiency of the workflow is greatly improved. Rather than the process described above, the author can simply highlight the text and pick a heading style. This provides both a visual and programmatically defined heading.


If the author decides to change the visual layout of their headings down the line, changes can be made en masse, rather than to each heading individually. By changing the styling of just one heading, going to the Headings Styles Pane, right clicking and selecting “Update Heading X to Match Selection”, each instance of that heading type will be updated. This is not only much more efficient, but also ensures consistency throughout a document.


In Microsoft Word, true headings can also be used to create a table of contents. This is particularly helpful for longer documents. Simply go to the References ribbon and select the Table of Contents button. A fully functional table of contents based on the heading structure will be inserted.


These types of efficiency gains are common across different software suites, and are a pleasant example of the benefits of designing our content for the broadest audience possible.