CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)

Department

College of Engineering and Computing

Advisor

Laurie P. Dringus

Committee Member

Steven R. Terrell

Committee Member

Martha M. Snyder

Abstract

Although all organizations and institutions should consider accessibility when developing online content, inaccessibility is a recurring issue in recent literature pertaining to online learning environments (OLEs) and faculty accessibility awareness. The goal was to describe how online faculty gain knowledge regarding accessibility, to explore the lived experiences of online faculty who have worked with students who have disabilities, and to gain a better understanding of how faculty experience the process of accessibility implementation. The following research questions guided this study: How do faculty in OLEs experience encounters regarding accessibility for students who have print related disabilities? How do faculty in OLEs experience the journey of developing the skills needed to provide accessibility for students with print related disabilities? What aspects of accessibility and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) do faculty members practice in OLEs and what meaning do they ascribe to the lived experience of providing these accommodations?

An interview guide was used to address the research questions. Participants were recruited from the Online Learning Consortium and Assistive Technology Industry Association for participation in phenomenological interviews, which were recorded and then transcribed verbatim. The transcripts of these interviews were analyzed to determine eight super-ordinate themes: Accessibility and usability awareness of online faculty; interactions and relationships between faculty, students, various departments, and outside organizations relating to SWDs and accessibility; different perspectives and experiences of faculty who teach courses within programs that have an emphasis on accessibility, AT, or working with people with disabilities; faculty experiences and perspectives of working with SWDs and providing accessible materials in OLEs; faculty training and experience with accessibility and people with disabilities; faculty autonomy within OLEs as it relates to creating accessible content; accommodations and accessibility features used in OLEs; as well as LMS accessibility and usability. The results of this study led to several implications regarding training and support services for faculty, students, other staff, and administration within online programs, best practices for implementing accessibility, as well as recommendations for future studies.