For students with disabilities, finding a college that provides the right learning environment can be difficult.
In the past few years, colleges and universities revolutionized the classroom by offering courses online. These online classes might provide an answer to their problem, but at the same time, the design of these courses have the potential to create barriers to participation for students with disabilities.
Primary Concern of Accessible Online Courses
Although many studies have been conducted over the past few years to determine if online courses are effective tools for students with disabilities, their success really depends on the individual student.
Well over sixteen million Americans use some form of assistive technology devices to help them manage their disabilities.
One of the primary concerns with online education is that it doesn’t necessarily accommodate this assistive technology necessary for students with disabilities. This can cost students with disabilities their ability to participate as much as the other students enrolled in an online course.
Benefits of Accessible Online Courses
Designing online courses for students with disabilities results in courses that are easier to use and understand for everyone.
Benefits of Accessible Online Education For Everyone
Accessible online course:
- Contain features like alternative text for HyperText Markup Language (HTML) which helps all students
- Understand and utilize graphic elements
- Search for key words and primary phrases
- Have additional textual content that helps students learn information
- Help those whose primary language differs from the language of the course
- Are more compatible with second-generation browsing devices (wireless computers, Internet capable phones, Internet capable music or storage devices
- Are easier than customizing a course for a specific student
Benefits of Accessible Online Education for Students with Disabilities
Designing accessible online courses especially helps students with disabilities if they
- Choose to hide their disability
- Have problems with
- Helps student’s speech become legible
- Helps student learn by providing extra time to think about information
- Helps student review material multiple times
- Helps student locate important class information
- Physical handicap that makes travel or note-taking difficult
- Edmonds, Curtis D. “Providing Access to Students with Disabilities in Online Distance Education: Legal & Technical Concerns for Higher Education.” (2004) American Journal of Distance Education. 18(1). 51-62.
- Janson, T. “Do Online College Classrooms Benefit Students with Disabilities” http://www.online-education.net/articles/general/students-with-disabilities.htm