Colleges and universities are finding themselves in unchartered waters and dealing with unintentional barriers when it comes to students with disabilities utilizing the sometimes inaccessible high-tech classrooms and technology based assignments. For example, if an assignment includes watching some YouTube videos and those videos don’t have closed captioning, it becomes a barrier for the student who is deaf or has a hearing impairment. Students with learning disabilities are finding that complicated and fast-paced internet programs used in the classroom are becoming barriers to learning as well.
Yes, students with disabilities still utilize screen readers and textbook scanners but those assistive devices are being outpaced by innovative learning management systems, student email and directories, and massive amounts of new online information. For instance my daughter, a college Junior with learning disabilities for instance, goes online to register for classes, review assignments, monitor grades and at times, even to take tests.
It is up to today’s post-secondary learning environments to figure this out and fast. After all, it is these students that need to be ready to be our nation’s workforce and to do so, without additional barriers placed on them. Schools need to demand these technologies that they are paying large sums of money for, are accessible to all of their students, not just those without disabilities.
I do believe however, this is also a wake-up call for employers to start thinking about such issues of inclusion relative to their own technology requirements and uses.
This information should not be construed as “legal advice” for a particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended only to be a practical guide for participants familiar with this subject. Users should seek appropriate legal advice tailored to address their specific situation.