From time to time, students with a declared disability will enroll in an online course(s). At SHSU Online, we strive to make every effort possible to accommodate and appropriate the online content to the learner’s needs. Working in conjunction with the SHSU Department of Disability Services, we will ensure that our online environments are ADA Compliant.
Common Accommodations for Students with Disabilities in an Online Course
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that educational institutions make reasonable adjustments for students with disabilities in order that they not be discriminated against on the basis of their disabilities. Some of these adjustments may take on one or more of the following forms:
- Providing extended time on tests: 1.5 X
- Permitting Screen Magnification Software installations
- Permitting Screen Reader Software Access
- Audio/Video Captioning or Transcribing
Additional ways to assist learners with disabilities in an online course include tactics that are generally aligned with best practices for online teaching and may therefore be already in use by SHSU online faculty. These indirect techniques that help all students (disabled or not) attend to and retain information presented in their online course may include:
- The intentional and deliberate posting of reviews of past lessons or lectures
- The provision of course calendars and/or assignment due date organizers, which Bb automatically provides via the What’s New and What’s Due course modules
- Providing images and graphic displays to convey important concepts (benefits most students, with the exception of the visually impaired)
There may be other requests that may need to be made depending on the student’s disability, but the above mentioned examples are the most common ways that SHSU Online works to make reasonable accommodations for our online learners who may be differently-abled.
Additional Accommodations & Recommendations for Online Learning Environments
Following is a list of additional “cited” recommendations for making an online course ADA Compliant. While some of these occur naturally in the Bb environment, others require the manual input of the SHSU Online Course Development Team.
- Avoid blinking or flashing items that might distract students with LD (Cook, 2002; Crow, 2008).
- Use forms and tags that screen reading software can access. These are the descriptions faculty can write in the Alt Text Field in Bb when images and other multimedia is uploaded or linked in the text editor (Cook, 2002).
- Avoid special plug-in applications that require users to leave the web site and obtain software before viewing or listening to media (Cook, 2002).
- Incorporate consistent and easy-to-use navigation links (Cook, 2002; Crow, 2008; Dukes et al., 2009).
- Include warnings of timed responses so that students are aware if they are going to be disconnected from an exam (Cook, 2002).
- Provide alternative labels for graphic elements for speech output programs (Cook, 2002).
- Design web pages to be clear and free from unnecessary clutter (Crow, 2008; Dukes et al., 2009).
- Avoid learning materials that rely exclusively on recognition of color by the student (Crow, 2008).
- Use page titles and headings (Crow, 2008; Dukes et al., 2009).
- Limit unnecessary graphics or pop-ups (Crow, 2008).
- Provide detailed notes embedded in posted online PowerPoints (Dukes et al., 2009).
- Offer opportunities for students to give each other feedback before submitting assignments (Dukes et al., 2009).
Students requesting disability accommodations for on-line coursework are advised to visit the SHSU Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) website, or contact SSD by phone, TDD, fax, or email at the numbers / email address listed below. Information on the SSD documentation guidelines and procedures to request services is available at the SSD site.
SSD Contact Information:
Counseling Center, Lee Drain North Annex (next to Farrington Building)
1916 Avenue J
Huntsville, Texas 77340
Barnard-Brak, L., & Sulak, T. (2010). Online versus face-to-face accommodations among college students with disabilities. American Journal of Distance Education, 24 (2), 81-91.
Bricout, J. C. (2001). Making computer-mediated education responsive to the accommodation needs of students with disabilities. Journal of Social Work Education, 37(2), 267-281.
Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/detail?accno=EJ631112
Burgstahler, S. (2002). Bridging the digital divide in postsecondary education: Technology access for youth with disabilities. Addressing Trends and Development in Secondary Education and Transition, 1(2).
Retrieved from http://www.ncset.org/publications/viewdesc.asp?id=718
Cook, R. A., & Gladhart, M. A. (2002). A survey of online instructional issues and strategies for postsecondary students with learning disabilities. Information Technology and Disabilities, 8(1).
Retrieved from http://people.rit.edu/
Crow, K. L. (2008). Four types of disabilities: Their impact on online learning. TechTrends, 52(1), 51-55. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/detail?accno=EJ798639
Dukes III, L. L, Koorland, M. A., & Scott, S. S. (2009). Making blended instruction better: Integrating universal design for instruction principles in course design and delivery. Action in Teacher Education, 31(1), 38-48.
National Center for Education Statistics. (2009). Number and percentage distribution of students enrolled in postsecondary institutions, by level, disability status, and selected student and characteristics: 2003-04 and 2007-08. Digest of Education Statistics.
Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d09/tables/dt09_231.asp