by Janice Florent
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This law was enacted to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
It is extremely important for students with disabilities to have access to accessible course content. Statistics show that 12.9% of students have a disability. One in twenty-five incoming freshmen have some form of cognitive disability. These students have neurological challenges processing information. *
Forty to sixty percent of undergrads and nine percent of graduate students choose not to report their disability and will just struggle through their courses.*
Chances are you will have a student enrolled in one of your courses that has a disability and has chosen not to disclose that information to you.
The Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS) was designed with accessibility in mind. While Blackboard is accessible to persons with disabilities, uploaded content may not be.
Instructors should make a conscious effort to make sure content is accessible. Even though you may not have a student with a disability currently enrolled in your course, there are a few things you can do when creating content that will save you time later when you do have a student with a disability. This is not wasted time as you will find some students without disabilities will take advantage of accessible content as well. Additionally, if you usually copy content from one course to another you will be one step ahead because your copied course content will already be accessible.
Also for cognitive disabilities it’s important to build flexibility into your courses. This is done by using many modes of information and creating a clutter-free learning environment.
In an upcoming series of blog posts I will provide information on things you can routinely do when you create content and setup your courses to make it accessible.