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National Center for Accessible Information Technology in Education


Co-Director, AccessIT University of Washington. Sponsors of DL Courses ... Q&As, Case Studies, Promising Practices. AccessDL ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: National Center for Accessible Information Technology in Education

  • National Center for Accessible Information
    Technology in Education

Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph. D., Co-Director
Distance Learning Policies Practices that
Promote Accessible Design
  • Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph. D.
  • Director, DO-IT, AccessSTEM
  • Co-Director, AccessIT University of Washington

Sponsors of DL Courses
  • Postsecondary institutions
  • K-12 schools
  • Online learning organizations
  • Employee training of businesses non-profit

DL Methods Tools
  • On-Site Instruction
  • Internet-Based Communication
  • Printed Materials
  • Telephone Conferences
  • Video Conferences
  • Web Pages
  • Video/Multimedia Presentations
  • dis

DL has potential advantages for students who
  • Are shy, less confident learners
  • Are slow readers, learners
  • Are poor writers/spellers
  • Learn in multiple ways
  • Live in rural areas
  • Are interested in specialized topics
  • Have time, schedule, or location constraints
  • Are home-bound
  • Are deaf or blind or have low vision

DL Access Challenges for people with
  • Blindness
  • Other Visual Impairments
  • Specific Learning Disabilities
  • Mobility Impairments
  • Hearing Impairments
  • Speech Impairments
  • Seizure Disorders

Distance Learning Literature
  • Disability issues are rarely mentioned.
  • Increasing access to educational opportunity, a
    common goal, usually refers to reaching out to
    people who are off-campus, live in remote areas,
    have limited schedules.
  • If limitations of access at the user end are
    considered at all, they generally deal with
    computer/network capacity.
  • Many DL program websites pose accessibility
  • Few programs have policies that address
    disability-related accessibility issues.

Universal Design
  • the design of products and environments to be
    usable by all people, to the greatest extent
    possible, without the need for adaptation or
    specialized design, Ron Mace, Center for
    Universal Design, North Carolina State University

Problem Solution
  • Computer Assistive
  • Access technology
  • Web Universal
  • access design

Need for
  • Universal design (proactive) accommodations
  • Policies procedures that address both

Web Accessibility
  • WAIs Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
  • Access Board (Section 508) Standards www.access-bo sec508/508standards.htm

Example Universal Design of Video/Multimedia
  • Videotaped with captions in mind
  • Large, clear captions
  • Designed so that key content is spoken as well as
    demonstrated visually
  • Audio-described version available
  • vid_

Universal Design of DL Benefits People
  • with disabilities
  • with differences in attention/perception
  • with situational limitations
  • whose first language is not the one in which the
    course is taught
  • with older equipment
  • using different web browsers
  • using handheld display units other new
  • …

Justification for Accessible Design
  • unethical to bar some eligible participants from
    program access
  • legislation mandates program accessibility
  • applying accessible design is a best practice for
    all students
  • costly redesign may be required when a student
    with a disability enrolls in an inaccessible

Examples DL Accessibility Policies
  • California Community Colleges, 1999
  • Michigan Virtual University Standards for
    Quality Online Courses technology, usability,
    accessibility, instructional design

Reference (in press)
  • Article The Development of Accessibility
    Indicators for Distance Learning Programs
  • by Sheryl Burgstahler
  • Research in Learning Technology
  • ALT-J

Research Question
  • What are program-level policies and practices
    related to delivering courses that are fully
    accessible to students with disabilities and what
    are examples of each?

Research Steps
  • draft list of DLP accessibility indicators
  • collect examples of applications of the
    indicators in DL programs
  • apply the indicators to UW DL program
  • gather input from DL programs to refine
    items on the list, encourage them to adopt
    the indicators.

DLP Accessibility Indicators for
  • Students, potential students (1-5)
  • DL designers (6, 7)
  • DL instructors (8)
  • DL program evaluators (9, 10)

DLP Accessibility Indicator 1
  • The DL home page is accessible to individuals
    with disabilities (e.g., adheres to Section 508,
    WCAG, or institutional accessible-design
  • University of Wisconsin Continuing Education
    Outreach http//

DLP Accessibility Indicator 2
  • A statement about the DL program's commit-ment to
    accessible design for all potential students,
    including those with disabilities, is included
    prominently in appropriate publica-tions
    websites, along with contact informa-tion for
    reporting inaccessible design features.
  • Virtual Classroom, Mt. San Antonio College
    http// This page is design-ed
    to be accessible to all users. If you have any
    questions or concerns, please contact …

DLP Accessibility Indicator 3
  • A statement about how DL students with
    disabilities can request accommodations is in
    appropriate publications web pages.
  • University of South Carolina Student Guidebook
    Policies and Procedures for Distanced Education
    Classes http//

DLP Accessibility Indicator 3, cont.
  • Students requiring accommodations for
    disabilities or learning needs are advised to
    contact the Office of Disability Services (864)
    503-5199. The staff works to ensure accessibility
    for all university programs, services,
    activities in compliance with Section 504 of the
    Rehabilitation Act of 1973 the Americans with
    Disabilities Act. Services offered include
    priority registration, test proctoring, classroom
    adaptation, sign language interpreters, readers,
    note takers.

DLP Accessibility Indicator 4
  • A statement about how people can obtain alternate
    formats of printed materials is included in
  • University of Minnesota Independent and Distance
    Learning Course Catalogue This publication is
    available in alternative formats on request. Call
    One Stop Student Services (800-400-8636) for

DLP Accessibility Indicator 5
  • The online other course materials of DL courses
    are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
  • Test compliance with adopted standards, guidelines

DLP Accessibility Indicator 6
  • Publications web pages for DL course design-ers
    include a) a statement of the program's
    commitment to accessibility, b) guidelines/
    standards regarding accessibility, c)
  • University of Iowas Accessibility Standards for
    Web Resources http//
    WebAccessibility.htm The University of Iowa is
    committed to providing equal access to
    information, programs, activities through its
    technologies, web pages, services resources…

DLP Accessibility Indicator 7
  • Accessibility issues are covered in regular DL
    course designer training.
  • University of Washington DL designers includes a
    session on legal technical accessibility issues
    and Section 508 standards.

DLP Accessibility Indicator 8
  • Publications web pages for DL instructors
    include a) a statement of the DL program's
    commitment to accessibility, b) guidelines/
    standards regarding accessibility, c)
  • University of Maryland University Accessibility
    in Distance Education A Resource for Faculty in
    Online Teaching http// The
    Accessibility in Distance Education (ADE) Web
    site focuses on helping faculty develop
    accessible online learning materials for people
    with disabilities. It is divided into five major
    sections, ...

DLP Accessibility Indicator 9
  • Accessibility issues are covered in training
    sessions for instructors.
  • Cal State San Marcos Web Accessibility Applying
    ADA Principles to Online Teaching Learning
    http//www.csusm. edu/ accessibility/onlinecourses
    / includes content resources from a faculty
    training session.

DLP Accessibility Indicator 10
  • A system is in place to monitor the accessibility
    of courses, and, on the basis of this evaluation,
    the program takes actions to improve the
    accessibility of specific courses to update
    information training given to potential
    stu-dents, students, course designers,
  • UW applies quality assurance tests to courses
    before delivered. Included is accessibility
    review. Barriers to accessibility recorded
    removed in course updates.

UW Implementation Goal
  • To make distance learning courses at the
    University of Washington accessible to all
    students and instructors.

UW Project Partners
  • Extension Online Learning
  • Access Technology Lab (ATL)
  • DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities,
    Internetworking and Technology)
  • Disabled Student Services

Campus-wide Efforts
  • ATL works with Educational Technology Group to
    promote accessible tools course materials
  • ATL stand-alone accessibility presentations
    integration of accessibility into mainstream Web
    other technology courses
  • Web accessibility campus Web page established
  • AccessWeb discussion list established group
    began meeting

UW Distance Learning, a Work in Progress
  • Distance learning program established 1912 (now
    Online Learning)
  • 1995 first course using the Internet
  • (Burgstahler Coombs, employed accessible
  • 200 courses serving 10,000 annually

Initial State
  • DL program included policy/ procedures
    statements on website regarding reasonable
    accommodations for students with disabilities

  • Course delivery system developed with campus
    Computing Communications (CC) suite of
    course tools developed by campus Educational
    Technology Group CC

Progress with UW DL
  • Determined that UW policy of commitment to
    nondiscrimination reasonable accommodation
    (Section 504 ADA) was enough to justify
    development of accessibility guidelines efforts
  • Training provided to DL program staff buy-in
    secured at management implementation levels
    responsibility assigned
  • Began to systemically change approach from
    accommodation to universal design accommodation

UW DL Progress, cont.
  • Identified places on DL program Web pages to
    reaffirm UW policy
  • All but one indicator implemented
  • Accessibility content included in DL Certificate
    Program in Introduction to Web publishing
    course (accessible design required in the final

UW DL Program Rewards
  • Compliance with laws
  • Cleaner, better functioning pages
  • Improved ease of use for all students and

  • Faculty education/buy-in
  • Resources
  • Technology constraints
  • Specific courses

Outreach to 16 DL Programs
  • .5 staff, one year
  • Beginning 3 DLP indicators implemented per
    school ending 4.1 per school
  • Changes at 3 schools accounted for 80 of changes

Results suggest
  • Incorporating accessibility considerations in
    program policies, procedures, communications
  • requires efforts related to students, course
    designers, instructors, evaluators
  • requires approval implementation at variety of
  • becomes easier once some initial accessibility
    policies, procedures, communications have been
  • is an ongoing process that may be implemented in
    incremental steps

  • QAs, Case Studies, Promising Practices
  • AccessDL
  • accessdl.html