Distance Learning Universal Design, Universal Access
Offering distance learning opportunities is not a new concept to the field of education. However with the development of a variety of technologies, including television, teleconferencing, email, the World Wide Web, etc. the ability to reach more individuals across the world has increased. Even with these vast advancements, “some people [still] find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide,”
states Sheryl Burgstahler, Director of project DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology) at the University of Washington (2002). Access and accessibility of these new technologies is often constrained for individuals with disabilities. “Without access to new technologies, their options for taking courses, teaching courses and pursuing careers are limited” (Burgstahler, 2002).
This article provides a broad view of the challenges related to accessibility for individuals with disabilities, explores the legal issues, and discusses universal design as a solution. The areas of disability specifically discussed in this article include mobility impairments, visual impairments, learning disabilities, hearing impairments, speech impairments, and seizure disorders. Sheryl Burgstahler, maintains that distance education, when designed correctly, can provide learning opportunities for everyone, including individuals with varying disabilities.
Burgstahler, S. (2002). Distance Learning Universal Design, Universal Access. Educational Technology Review, 10:1. Retrieved on February 26, 2004 from http://www.aace.org/pubs/etr/issue2/burgstahler.cfm.