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E-Learning Accessibility: What Does an Instructor Need to Know?

Proposal No: 2958

Bios & Handouts


  • Sheryl Burgstahler, Director, Accessible Technology Services, University of Washington

Disability Area:            

Topic Area:                  

Length of Session (in hours): 1-hrFormat: Lecture Expertise Level: All Levels Type of session: Not provided

Summary of Session

Learn what actions instructors in online courses can take to ensure that their courses are welcoming to, accessible to and usable by all students, including those who have disabilities, who wish to engage in online learning offerings.


Some online learning programs have faced legal challenges because of the inaccessibility of their courses to individuals with disabilities. But, what does it mean for a course to be “accessible”? What can be learned from legal challenges regarding e-learning accessibility. What are relevant laws? What are some strategies for making online courses compliant with legal mandates specifically, but also, more generally, welcoming to, accessible to and usable by all students, including those with disabilities, who wish to engage in online learning offerings,? This presentation will answer these questions, provide time for discussion, and provide useful resources for further exploration of the content presented.


  1. Postsecondary institutions’ legal obligation to make online courses accessible to faculty, students, staff, an
  2. Typical challenges people with a variety of disabilities face in engaging in online courses.
  3. What specific actions can an instructor take to ensure that their courses is welcoming to, accessible to, and

Speaker Bio(s)

Sheryl Burgstahler

Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler founded and directs the DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) Center and the ATC (Access Technology Center) as part of her role as Director of Accessible Technology Services at the University of Washington (UW). These centers promote (1) the support the success of students with disabilities in postsecondary education and careers and (2) the development of facilities, IT, services, and learning activities that are welcoming and accessible to individuals with disabilities. The ATC focuses efforts at the UW; the DO-IT Center reaches national and international audiences with the support of federal, state, corporate, foundation, and private funds. Dr. Burgstahler is an affiliate professor in the UW College of Education. She developed and taught the Accessibility and Compliance in Online Education online course offered by Rutgers University and currently teaches graduate courses in applications of universal design in higher education at City University of New York and Saint Louis University.