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Jessica Walker stands in front of skyscraper buildings in Miami.
Jessica Walker on one of her travels, this time to Miami

If you ask UNC-Chapel Hill student Jessica Walker what she does as an ITS Change Management intern, she’ll tell you it’s “a little bit of everything.”  

Change Management is the group within ITS that communicates and eases technical transitions for people and units across campus. Walker started her work-study job for the unit last fall. Her favorite assignment so far has been writing alternative text, also known as alt text, for University online help documents.  

Why alt text? 

The Digital Accessibility Office, which lives within ITS, defines alt text as “the equivalent of an image in context.” All images published on the web must include alt text. Screen readers read alt text aloud to describe the purpose of an image, which makes the digital content accessible. If an image can’t be displayed, the alt text is shown in its place.

That makes alt text helpful to all, but essential for those who use screen readers. Its importance to real users, Walker said, is why the project felt so meaningful to her. 

Learning from all sides

Walker is a Journalism and Global Studies double major, two areas of interest seemingly unrelated to information technology. However, Walker said that her major has aided her work at Change Management, including the alt text assignment.  

“In my journalism classes, you learn a lot about writing with clarity, not making anything too long or wordy,” she said. “I feel like that’s helped so much with writing alt text, because there is a word count you need to meet. I’ve learned how to shorten things.”  

Similarly, she’s learned how to make her writing more accessible from Change Management’s collaboration with the DAO. “We have meetings with them all the time,” she said.

Want to learn more about alt text?

The Digital Accessibility Office offers offers these 10 tip tips and offers live and self-paced training on a variety of accessibility topics, including captioning, web accessibility basics, social media, Zoom and document remediation.

“I love working with the Change Management group,” said Chelsea Porter, Interim Head of Digital Accessibility for the DAO. “They always strive to ensure that accessibility is included in all of their process and planning. I think this shows with the passion for accessibility that Jessica has picked up from them.”

Supporting campus transitions 

Her experience writing alt text is one example of why Walker believes in the importance of Change Management. The unit supports faculty, staff and students of UNC-Chapel Hill through transitions, such as the current move from Sakai to Canvas. 

“Change Management tries to make that process simpler for faculty and students,” she said. “There’s always going to be technical changes, always going to be new things like that.” 

Like the work of the unit itself, Walker’s position is broad. She said that the varied nature of her work allows her to learn a variety of skills that will be crucial to her future career, which is her favorite aspect of the job. She also appreciates how well her virtual position balances with her busy schedule as a student and writer for the Daily Tar Heel. 

“Jessica has been a great addition to our team and is eager to jump in and share her ideas,” said Jackie Treschl, Change Manager. “For example, we asked her to put together a strategy for getting students engaged when we’re rolling out changes that affect students. Her strategy was thoughtful and creative, and showed initiative. We are fortunate to have her on our team.” 

Jessica Walker smiles widely while holding her dog, a shiba inuJessica Walker is a third-year student at Carolina. She loves to read, and her favorite authors are Jane Austen and Taylor Jenkins Reid. Recently she added The Picture of Dorian Gray to her list of favorite books. Walker is an aficionado of period pieces set in the 1800s. Fascinated by United Kingdom politics, she will travel to London this spring for her Media in the U.K. class, MEJO 447.

Interested in student employment with ITS? Use JobX to search and apply for roles with ITS units. Learn more about jobs in different ITS divisions and hear from students about how they gained real-world experience, new skills and grew their professional network. 

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