Carolina People

Carolina People: Sarah Arnold

“I love being around this kind of creativity. The passion that people have here at Carolina is great.”

Sarah Arnold

Sarah Arnold
digital accessibility consultant
5 years at Carolina

Describe a typical day in your job.

There’s not really a typical day. It’s always something different, which is nice. But the core part of my work is to do web accessibility assessments. Someone from around campus will have a new website they’re working on or rethinking, and they’ll reach out to my office. I’ll be assigned to look at it for any accessibility issues, so anything that someone with a disability would face as a barrier. I find these problems and help the person who’s in charge of the site fix them or find solutions to fix them and make it better.

I also do a lot of consultations, giving people resources, tips and guidance on how to incorporate accessibility into projects that they are working on. After transitioning over to using Zoom, digital accessibility has been more important than ever since everyone is using computers and communicating electronically and online. There’s a lot that digital accessibility can do to improve anyone’s experience and access to information.

How does your job support Carolina’s mission?

Our office focuses on how digital accessibility can touch anyone and what they’re doing, whether it’s a student in the classroom, a faculty member delivering a lesson or researchers who have federal grants. Digital accessibility is everywhere, and the challenge is people don’t realize how important it is. I really want the office to be a leader when it comes to digital accessibility and be an example for peer institutions.

What do you like best about your work?

The people I work with are great. Since we work remotely, we try to make it fun and keep things interesting while staying connected. We share funny gifs with each other. Right now, my fellow consultants and I are working on a conference presentation with a roller coaster theme. I love being around this kind of creativity. The passion that people have here at Carolina is great.

How did you get interested in this role?

Originally, I was working at University Libraries in the user-experience department, so I was thinking a lot about how students and faculty used the library’s websites. Accessibility tied into this, and I started to learn more about it. Then the digital accessibility department was formed, and I realized that I wanted to think about digital accessibility full time instead of as a smaller part of my job. Making the overall computer experience better for people is important to me.

What’s one thing about your job that people may not know?

I’m always learning new stuff. Digital accessibility is kind of an ever-evolving area that I think will just become more and more important as time goes on and as we use more and more technology. Another thing is that we don’t work alone, we get help from our digital accessibility liaisons. They’re a community of volunteers from all over campus that want to learn more about digital accessibility. They help my department spread awareness of digital accessibility. We couldn’t do the work we do on campus without their support.

What are you doing to stay physically and mentally well during the pandemic?

I hike a lot, especially on the weekends. I like going on a nice long hike at Eno River State Park. It’s nice to just be outside. I do yoga as well to help me unwind and get me away from my computer. The class is through Zoom, and it’s a great way to stay connected with others. I’m part of a book club. We read a book a month and get together to chat, either on Zoom or socially distanced in person.