Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Inclusion of students with disabilities in online learning environments

This is an example of teachers sharing knowledge about technology on classroom 2.0 web site (click on link above to find the site). This question addressed my need to promote inclusion in the classroom using technology. Some links can be found at Links for Life after Cal State on this blog - others - sorry you have to cut and paste.

Posted by Lorraine Ahlers-Mack on August 1, 2008 at
11:48am in Help or Feedback Needed

How can I as a new teacher include my students with visual or auditory
disabilities in online learning? I know that there are restrictions
for using some Virtual Worlds. Has anyone come up with a way to use it so that students can collaborate in the experience? What about programs like Moodle?
Can they be adapted with auditory enhancements? I would appreciate feedback.
Thanks in advance.

Replies to This Discussion
Reply by Karen Fasimpaur on August 1, 2008 at 2:21pm
You might check that your web site or online learning environment meets accessibility guidelines. (This will ensure that tools that disabled people use, like screen readers, work.) Here are some resources on this:

Hope this is useful.

Reply by Christy Tucker on August 1, 2008 at 8:03pm
Visually impaired students will probably use a screen reader. You can find a number of resources available for making content accessible to screen readers. You don't have to provide an audio equivalent for everything as long as your students have the right software to read it to them. JAWS is a common screen reader, but even Firefox add-ons like Click Speak and Accesibar can make a big difference in an LMS like Moodle. Virtual worlds like Second Life are harder, partly because everything has to be accessible by keyboard. Linden Labs does have some documentation of their accessibility features.

For students with hearing impairments, provide a text equivalent for any audio. If you have video, provide real-time captions if you can and a transcript if you can't. Second Life should actually work fine for someone with a hearing impairment as long as you use text chat instead of voice.

WebAIM has a wealth of resources on general web accessibility. I recommend starting with their Intro to Web Accessibility. Ira Socol's SpeEdChange blog has lots of ideas about accessibility specifically in education.

Reply by Sylvia Martinez on August 2, 2008 at 9:31am
Hi Lorraine,
You might want to check out Karen Janowski's blog
She's an expert on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and using technology to offer access to all kids, and her blog is a wealth of resources and ideas. She's a member here too!

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