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Opening Doors or Slamming Them Shut? Online Learning Practices and Students with Disabilities

[journal article]

Burgstrahler, Sheryl

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Abstract Online learning has the potential to open doors to education for everyone who has access to the technology required to participate. Or does it? When it comes to social inclusion in online learning, who are the "haves" and who are the "have-nots?" Some online learning practices erect barriers to individuals with disabilities - uncaptioned videos are not accessible to students who are deaf, content presented only within graphic images is not accessible to individuals who are blind, unorganized content cluttered on a page creates barriers to some students with learning disabilities and attention deficits, web pages that require the use of a mouse are inaccessible to those who cannot operate a mouse. This article explores the question, "What online learning practices make social inclusion possible for individuals with disabilities?" The author answers this question with lessons learned from her own teaching experiences as well as those presented in research and practice literature. She also shares overall characteristics of distance learning programs that promote the social inclusion of students with disabilities in their courses. The author points out how making courses welcoming to, accessible to, and usable by individuals with disabilities may promote the social inclusion of other students as well. She recommends further dissemination and future research regarding inclusive practices in online learning. (author's abstract)
Keywords university; student; computer aided learning; electronic learning; computer-aided instruction; virtual university; learning method; instructional technology; learning environment; cooperative learning; disability; learning difficulty; deprivation; social integration
Classification Sociology of Education; Curriculum, Teaching, Didactics; Sociology of Science, Sociology of Technology, Research on Science and Technology
Document language English
Publication Year 2015
Page/Pages p. 69-79
Journal Social Inclusion, 3 (2015) 6
Issue topic Inclusive Technologies and Learning
ISSN 2183-2803
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution