Faculty Handbook for OA (PDF-480KB)

    This handbook was created to provide easy access to information relevant to student accessibility on campus.

    The Disability-Related Animals on Campus Guide (PDF-238KB) is designed to provide the campus community with a working knowledge of the University’s guidelines on disability-related animals on campus. If you have questions, please contact the Office of Accessibility (OA): oa_team@winthrop.edu 803/323-3290.

    Universal Design recognizes that if students can’t access information, they can’t learn it. So in a Universal Design classroom, all materials are accessible for all types of learners. Students have many options for reading - including print, digital, text-to-speech, and audiobooks. For digital text, there are also options for text enlargement, along with choices for screen color, and contrast. Videos have captions, and there are transcripts for audio. It is always best practice to limit the amount of barriers from the start. 


    For students approved for test reading software that wish to utilize their testing accommodations at the OA Test Center, all testing materials must be received in an accessible format per the OA Faculty Handbook (P.16). Test Center staff do not read the tests to the students. We use Natural Reader, a text-to-speech software, for all paper tests. We also use NVDA, a screen reading software, for all Blackboard exams. This allows students to work independently in a reduced-distraction environment. 


    How do you know if a document is accessible? Are the PDFs converted from a Word document or a scanned image? Scanned documents are just images of the original page. Unless the scanned image has been made accessible by using optical character recognition (OCR) software, the text in the image cannot be selected or read aloud by the computer. A screen reader application will only identify that it has encountered an image, but it will be unable to read out any of the text. This also goes for handwriting on the document.  


    If you need to create your own accessible scanned documents, you need to start with a clear, good-quality scanned image. Careless positioning can lead to blurred or distorted text and sections of the page that are unreadable. Try to get the page to lie as flat as possible on the scanner. You can create basic image scans on any networked printer/scanner, but if the book's spine makes it impossible to flatten the pages sufficiently, the University Library has dedicated book scanners that avoid this issue. To make the scanned image readable by assistive technologies such as screen reader software, you can use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to identify the words and characters represented in the image. This text can then be incorporated into a PDF document or produced as a Word document, which will make to content accessible. Adobe Acrobat Pro has OCR functionality to convert images into accessible documents. For PowerPoint presentations, you can also add alt-text to images.


    Additional Resources: 

    The Online Learning website discusses accessibility - Should you require assistance creating accessible digital materials, please contact Winthrop University's Office of Online Learning at 803/323-2212 or blackboard@winthrop.edu. You can also browse the Center for Professional Excellence for professional development sessions. 

     OCR (Optical Character Recognition) for Accessibility, Annotation, and PDF Optimization 

     Enhancing Scanned PDF Accessibility