Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal offers an annual award for newly published research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of the e-Learning & Innovative Pedagogies Research Network.
With the growth of institutions providing online learning environments, administrators and educators need strategies to support students with disabilities. The purpose of this literature review is to identify optimal accessibility standards for meeting the needs of online students with disabilities. This article will share some helpful practices that could be used to create greater access for students. Some of the practices identified include universal design elements in the online environment to increase access for all students, accommodations for individual students, and authentic assessment. Future research should be conducted to evaluate these strategies and track the longitudinal academic gains of students with disabilities who receive them.
Access to higher education is made possible when educators and administrators incorporate strategies to support all students in inclusive learning environments. More than ever, students with disabilities are seeking alternative options to traditional classroom experiences. Students with diverse areas of exceptionalities are seeking online learning for various reasons. In a study of university faculty, over half did not know if they had training or resources to ensure accommodations (Phillips et al., 2012). Many online educators are unaware of legal, practical, and/or ethical responsibilities for students with disabilities. An article that offers information about how to create an accessible online learning environment is, “Bringing the Ivory Tower into Students’ Homes: Promoting Accessibility in Online Courses.” The article shares information about: professional development, modeling diversity, assignment choice, universal design for learning, and the use of authentic assessment to measure student learning and determine outcomes. Appropriate accommodations for individual learners with disabilities, as well as universal design concepts for the entire class can lead to an accessible online learning environment that meets legal requirements and recommended practice standards. Seven categories of accessible features fall into: images, tables, page content, multimedia, color, and auto-testing tools. When the ivory tower goes into students homes in the form of online courses, accessibility is the key to unlock learning and development.
—Marisa Macy, Robert Macy, Melanie Shaw
John Vitale, Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp.31-41
Thomas J. Haslam, Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp.9-20