Online Learning Strategies to Support Students with Disabilities

Posted: October 4, 2023 8:00:00 AM CDT

Male with hearing impairment using Ipad.

Accessibility in online course design ensures that individuals with diverse abilities and disabilities can effectively access and engage with educational content.

A disability is any condition or impairment of the body or mind that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities (activity limitation) and interact with the world around them (participation restrictions). The common forms of disabilities seen in online learning include:

Common types of disabilities and their strategies
Disability Strategy

Visual Impairment

Difficulty accessing and processing visual content on online platforms

  • Use descriptive links instead of URLs
  • No use of color to convey meaning
  • Provide alternative text for images
  • Tables should be captioned and labeled accordingly

Hearing Impairment

Difficulty hearing audio due to lack of accessible features like captions and transcripts

  • Close caption all video/audio content
  • Provide transcripts for video/audio content

Motor Disabilities

Difficulty navigating online platforms or participating in activities that require precise motor control

  • Present information using multiple formats
  • Provide multiple means for students to participate or exhibit learning
  • Be patient and empathetic in your interactions

Cognitive Disabilities

Affect memory, problem-solving, comprehension, or information processing

  • Provide clear and concise instructions
  • Show how previous lessons relate to current lessons
  • Use visual aids where possible to support teaching
  • Consider releasing information gradually
  • Chunk course content (Modularization, Headings, etc.)

Psychological Disabilities

Impact motivation, focus, or emotional well-being

  • Provide flexible deadlines for coursework
  • Be patient and empathetic in your interactions
  • Include student support services in the syllabus
  • Check-in regularly with students to help them stay on track

Speech & Language Disabilities

Difficulty in online environments or activities that require verbal communication or participation

  • Provide multiple means for students to participate or exhibit learning
  • Allow extra time for live presentations
  • Pre-recorded lectures and discussions can help students review and grasp the information at their own pace

By: Learning Design Team

Category: UNK Online, Learning Design, General

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