Australian Tertiary Education Network on Disability

Pathways15: Moving from On-Campus to Online

Melissa Wortel, Griffith University

Taking an on-campus university off site and has had its fair share of challenges. With the sudden increased workload, the focus has also turned to ensuring course work and materials are accessible.

As a university we were making steady progress, getting schools on board to incorporate accessibility. In this new world, we are hurriedly trying to ensure all of our online content is accessible.

We have always striven to be proactive when catering to the needs of both current and future students, which we believe has put us in good stead for the current environment. This presentation will provide an insight into the teams we have working on captioning options for areas that were “uncaptionable”, teams working on various “how-to” documents and video, teams working on how to best support those students who need assistive technology and purpose built “COVID” teams designed to assist the Learning and Teaching community in navigating through the online environment.

We will look at the student software and hardware options we have put in place. How we have been able to facilitate our students in temporarily downloading non-purchased university software on their home machines and how we have overcome challenges around students having no or old equipment at home.

The way in which we communicate within teams and with external teams has needed to be continually adapted. There is a now a sense of urgency in getting tasks completed which has added extra pressures to staff, sometimes leading to a lack of understanding or testing before solutions are rolled out. All of this has also focused attention on building general IT skills in students, thus aiding the building of independence and resilience.


Melissa Wortel, has worked at Griffith University since 1998 and as the Assistive Technology Officer (Digital Solutions) since 2009. Her position entails obtaining and managing assistive technology for Griffith University’s multi-campus labs as well as providing strategic advice for the University on assistive technology for students and staff. Melissa is passionate about assistive technology and is always keen to research and trial new devices entering the market.

Melissa's role works collaboratively with the Student Disability & Accessibility Team and the People and Wellbeing Team to enhance the support for students and staff.