Accessible Online Learning

Winthrop University is committed to providing an accessible and inclusive online learning environment that creates welcoming and engaging campus experiences. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act  (29 U.S.C. § 794d) requires that electronic and information technology is "accessible" to people with disabilities, including employees and members of the public. 

Regarding online courses, according to the Office of Civil Rights, “accessible” means that “a person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability in an equally effective and integrated manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use. The person with a disability must be able to obtain the information as fully, equally, and independently as a person without a disability.”

There are ways to ensure that your online learning environment is accessibile and that is to incorporate the concept of Universal Design of Instruction when developing your course and course content.

Winthrop faculty and staff also have the following resources available to assist in the creation of accessible online courses and content:

  • Visit the accessibility information sectionon the Office of Online Learning Instructor Training and Resources for tutorials that provide information about teaching in an online environment, using the Blackboard LMS, and integrating educational tools available to instructors (see also: Office of Online Learning)
  • Videos (including video excerpts, screen casts, etc), and audio files should be closed captioned or subtitled. It is good practive to have an available transcript of the materials, as well. You may contact the Office of Online Learning to Request Transcripts or Closed Captioning for assistance providing this service. The office can also teach you to caption your media such as your personal videos and screen casts using TechSmith Relay, which is available to faculty. (also see What is TechSmith Relay)
  • Testing accommodations such as extended testing time, and extended test availability should be provided for approved students. You may utilize the instructions for establishing Test Availability Exceptions in Blackboard to guide you.
  • Blackboard Ally is available for instructors and offers increased efficiency in managing compliance with online course document accessibility requirements. It provides automatic compliance checks to ensure ADA accesssibility of content, and offers suggestions to materials that are not in compliance before implementation.  Blackboard Ally also provides faculty with professional development and guidance in the area of creating accessible course documents.

Other Available Resources