While online/hybrid courses and programs have the potential to benefit all students, students with disabilities are often left behind due to a lack of accessibility. When we think of accessibility, we often think of physical access – for instance, curb cuts, or elevators. But accessibility to online/hybrid courses is no different and no less important. If courses are not designed to be accessible, users with disabilities may be prevented from accessing course materials and participating in course activities.
Opening the door to students with disabilities is not only the right thing to do; it is also required by law. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights recently issued a statement confirming that, “The Department is firmly committed to ensuring that schools provide students with disabilities equal access to the benefits of technological advances.” As a University, we are compelled to work collaboratively to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to benefit from the richness of online/hybrid learning.
Creating accessible online/hybrid courses is possible. Faculty, Office of Information Technology (OIT), and disability services all play an important role in this process. By working together, we can design courses with accessible elements from their inception and ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in online/hybrid courses.
This presentation will include resources to help the faculty member design an accessible course, from the course materials to the activities and assessments. Ultimately, the goal of this presentation is to share best practices for teaching in an accessible and inclusive online learning environment.