Technology has made vast improvements in the lives of people with disabilities. However, with new technology, accessibility has often been overlooked. In the world of online education, more efforts have been made for professors and instructional designers to make courses accessible for all.
It is vital that online educators work together to ensure everyone is able to pursue the same educational opportunities available. Making courses accessible allows for students with disabilities to keep up with the course, participate actively and learn to their best ability. Students with disabilities are able to learn first and foremost, instead of having to constantly advocate and wait for accommodations.
When you as an educator design a course to be accessible, you create a positive educational experience for all students. Accessible design has many benefits to people with disabilities and people without disabilities. Closed captioning can help all learners comprehend the material, materials in different formats allows students to understand the material in multiple ways and scheduled course content reduces anxiety.
As an educator, it is important that you are responsive to students’ needs, think ahead and be proactive in students’ learning. When you are planning your course, sit down and think about everything you are wanting your students to accomplish. Then, think about the barriers students with disabilities would face in being successful in the course. Next, brainstorm how you can adapt the course to fit the needs of students with disabilities. If an assignment is not inclusive for all, maybe design another assignment.
If you have any questions about making content accessible, you can contact the Office of Online Learning. You can also visit our faculty teaching portal for information on universal design. For additional resources, the Disability Resource Center can work with students with disabilities to receive necessary accommodations.