Advance Your Teaching Degree Online with Enhanced Accessibility in Online Teaching
Accessibility means being able to obtain or use something with minimal inconvenience. This applies to buildings, vehicles, sidewalks, and also online information. The fact is, studying online is particularly difficult for disabled people unless an educational site employs an Accessible Web design process. This process ensures that a site is usable by students whether or not they have disabilities. For example, hearing impaired students can learn from a narrated video if it includes captions or if a transcript of the narration is provided. Either of these accommodations can help reinforce learning concepts not just for the hearing impaired, but for all students. There are accessibility features for vision impairments and other disabilities that can be incorporated right from the start in the web design planning phase or as they become necessary to accommodate a student with special needs.
- Introduction to Web Accessibility
- Web Accessibility Overview
- Accessibility in a Developmental Perspective
Online teaching modifications are changes that make a website and a teacher's own approach to presenting material more user-friendly to everybody, regardless of any disabilities. Changes in approach can mean shortening online text, adding summary paragraphs, using different forms of media and much more. Technology for online accessibility has also come a long way. The innovations include text-to-speech software and text-to-Braille hardware to assist blind students. Speech recognition software assists users who have difficulty using the computer keyboard or mouse. For those with hearing difficulties, closed-captioned videos or sign language video versions can be of great assistance. Some fixes are much easier. For example, to help colorblind users, important links can be underlined to ensure that they are noticeable and improved image sizes help users with partial blindness to see pictures more accurately.
To help ensure that the disabled are treated equally, the U.S. has a number of laws and regulations governing online accessibility. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which applies to many institutions of higher learning, requires equal access by the disabled to programs, classes and resources, including those that are online.
The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against the disabled in many aspects of life, covering both private organizations and public entities. Other online educational laws and regulations that assist people with disabilities include the Assistive Technology Act and Section 255 of the Telecommunication Act.
Disabilities can impact a person's physical or mental capacity and substantially limit their participation in certain activities. Fortunately, the list of what students with impairments can do is growing thanks to innovations that can compensate for a challenge that was formerly insurmountable. These include having note takers accompany a student to classes, allowing students with speech difficulties more time to answer a question verbally, providing audio or video recordings of the class. The government as well as private organizations have taken measures to safeguard the rights of these individuals and help them become more independent.
- Learning Disabilities (Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD, dysphasia, and dyscalculia)
- Sensory Impairments (vision loss, hearing impairment, and spatial awareness disorder)
- Health Impairments (hypertension, cancer, and diabetes)
To make educational websites more accessible, web designers can employ an Accessible Web design process and need to be aware of laws and guidelines that seek to ensure websites are usable by people with disabilities. There are several online resources that can be used to develop a list of best practices that suits your organization's needs:
- Web Guidelines: Accessibility Policy
- Web Accessibility: Guidelines for Administrators
- Accessible Webpage Design
- Designing Accessible Websites
- Tips for Developing Accessible Websites
- Accessible Web Guidelines
- Understanding Conformance
- Web Accessibility References
- Example 1 - Monash University Website
- Example 2 - Texas A&M University Website
- Example 3 - Colorado State University Website