Online Accessibility for Students with Disabilities

By: Ken Ferree

 The 21st century is experiencing a major influx of students who are working toward degrees online in higher education  –  at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.  Likewise, students with disabilities are attracted more and more to the online platform of learning.  As a result, the Federal Government is beginning to address accessibility of online courses for those with disabilities in an effort to insure compliance with the law.

This brings up the question – what makes a successful course compliant?

There are a number of answers for this question.  Here are a few, brief items to consider:

1.)  the addition of multimedia (graphics, video, photos, etc.) to an online course addresses learners at multiple intelligence levels (ie: auditory, kinesthetic, visually, etc.)

2.)  using proper fonts – preferable Arial or Tahoma – enables those with seeing problems to view text easier

3.)  using Closed Captioning for videos aids the hearing impaired

4.)  tagging photos with their title when uploading likewise aids the hearing impaired
These are just a few of the items that make a big difference in delivering a compliant vs. a non-compliant online course.  In actuality, they not only help those with disabilities to readily access the course, these tips also raise the overall level of the online course for all students.

It’s easy to say, “why should I care?”  The answer is – because it is the law.

About NCCC Online Learning

I have been helping faculty develop quality courses for delivery online for over 25 years. My online teaching experience includes both online at the undergraduate and graduate level and have created and delivered numerous workshops focusing on the pedagogy of teaching online and strategies to support student success. I hold an M.S. ED in Educational Computing and have proudly worked at SUNY-Niagara County Community College for the last 25 years.
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