Online Learning: Access to All

Submitted by Mike Shea on Thu, 01/17/2019
Man in wheelchair at a table, looking at a laptop and giving the thumbs up sign.
Man in wheelchair at a table, looking at a laptop and giving the thumbs up sign. 


What is online learning?

Almost every major college or University now has classes available for students to take online though an internet portal. The idea of online learning or elearning came long before the internet even existed. Teachers and professors would use the mail system to send work assignments back and forth, this was known as distance learning. This evolved into the Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations know as PLATO which was the first computer assisted instruction system. PLATO was used primarily to assist in instruction and coursework, but also helped create a lot of tools in online communication that we use today, including email, chat rooms, instant messaging, and remote screen sharing. Fast forward to today where many businesses have adopted elearning to train their employees. This has allowed new and experienced employees the opportunity to improve their knowledge and skill sets to help them advance in their career. Online learning gives leaners access to an expansive educational curriculum outside the traditional classroom or other instructor led training.

Benefits to Learning Online

Here at the RMADAC we utilize online trainings to provide a general background on the ADA and provide new learners with a starting point into better understanding the ADA. Our online trainings often lead into greater discussions in our in-person outreach and trainings. The primary benefit to having online learning available to you anytime is that you can fit it into your busy schedule and allow you to learn at your own pace. You can also revisit our courses at anytime to brush up on anything you may have missed. Having this control helps many students retain the material quicker and faster.

In many instances online learning can be more accommodating for people with disabilities. Having courses available online anytime allows the student to be more comfortable by having more time to complete assignments as well as allowing them to sit, rest, or walk whenever there is a necessity. This can be helpful for learners with learning or psychiatric disabilities. For learners with a physical disability being able to stay at home can give them more access to greater learning. With adaptive technologies advancing this also holds true for people that are blind or have low vision or people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Online learning has become a valuable tool in encouraging and developing learners with disabilities to grow their skills through advancements in adaptive technologies and the convenience and flexibility of online learning. The technology that is used for eLearning allows auditory and visual aspects to be accessible to all learners.

Accessible Online Learning

It is important when creating online courses to remember and follow the same accessibility standards implemented by web developers. These are known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These are a set of technical standards that outline necessary guidelines or rules around making web content more accessible to people with disabilities.  These standards are broken into three separate compliance categories; A, AA, and AAA. A single “A” sets the minimum requirement to meet WCAG compliance, while triple “AAA” sets the most accessibility by meeting all the guidelines listed in the WCAG standards. There are three major goals with accessible online learning; reaching even more people with education with easy access, increasing the effectiveness of an education course, and adding an overall value to your company or brand. Education is a fundamental right and by making sure all online learning is accessible to everyone you’re ensuring equal access to all. Keep learning!


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The Rocky Mountain ADA Center's blog, Access Granted, tackles ADA issues through unique and diverse perspectives. Articles are written by staff of RMADAC and a variety of special guest authors. Some may be educational, others might be personal or thought-provoking. Either way, Access Granted will bring you the ADA of today!

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