Employee Spotlight: Johnny Rocco

This article originally appeared in the March 2023 edition of Inside Equal Access. 

Haifa Alsaab
By: Haifa Alsaab




 Johnny Rocco is a Senior Training Coordinator for the Division of Information Technology. He provides training and professional development in desktop applications to Kent State faculty, staff, students, and the community. He also helps manage the Library TechHelp desk, assisting KSU student workers as they solve technology issues. He also works with colleagues across campus to identify and address specific technology training needs. 

Providing an accessible experience is very important to Johnny, as he presents many trainings in a hybrid method. To ensure accessibility for attendees, it is important that the information for these workshops is offered in multiple ways.  

Additionally, many of the workshops contain documentation that needs to be supported by assistive technologies, such as screen readers or Braille displays, making the information accessible for all. By addressing accessibility in these workshops, Mr. Rocco is helping to ensure that the content created using these tools is accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities.  

Kaltura, Kent State’s video platform, has the clearest link to accessibility efforts. “Certainly, Kaltura has an important accessibility component as we offer a workshop for the Kaltura Reach, which is Kaltura’s captioning service,” said Mr. Rocco. Captioning ensures that the audio content of a video is converted into text, allowing people to read what is being said in the video. 

Accessibility is also addressed in the Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat and InDesign workshops, to relay best practices for accessible document creation. According to Johnny, it is common for people to initially view accessibility as more work, as it can require additional time and effort to ensure that materials are accessible to people with disabilities. However, many participants came to see that making documents accessible can actually save time and effort in the long run. 

Recently, Mr. Rocco learned about Microsoft Word's new transcription Transcribe tool and shared the information with other accessibility professionals on campus. This feature is one of the Office Intelligent Services that brings the cloud to the Office apps. In just a couple of clicks, it turns any recording into a transcript, making transcribing interviews or meetings more accessible and efficient..  

The user can either record directly on Word or upload an audio file. The user also can review, highlight, or annotate the transcription and add notes during and after the transcription process. The transcript then can be saved as a Word document or as segments added to existing documents. This feature is currently only offered on Word for the web.  

Mr. Rocco always tries to have direct interaction with THE KSU community to understand their needs and challenges with technology.

Transcribe tool is particularly exciting because Word is already provided by Kent State and therefore doesn’t have additional cost for the user. He has incorporated this new feature in workshops, helping to ensure that participants are aware of the latest accessibility tools and know how to use them effectively.  

Mr. Rocco’s commitment to accessibility extends beyond his workshops. He told us that his perfect day is when he would be able to be accessible to interact with students, faculty, and staff at the TechHelp Desk. Having his office located in the library, he has the advantage of being accessible to a wider audience, as people may be more likely to seek out help and resources in a central location like the library. 

This direct interaction can be valuable in terms of understanding the needs and challenges that people are facing with technology. Therefore, it informs the content and approach of the workshops he gives. 

The advice that Johnny has for someone just beginning to learn about accessibility is to ask questions. “Ask questions of the people who use assistive technology. Ask people what would make things simpler or easier. Ask what other people are doing to help”, he said.  “We learn more by finding out what we don’t know than by reaffirming what we do know”.