Every person has equal right to education and this includes people with various disabilities. Its often a myth that students with disability may not be as capable as their non – disabled peers. An accessible educational environment with certain accommodations and considerations can ensure an inclusive and better learning experience for students with disabilities.
One important step towards inclusive education is ensuring access to educational learning materials for students with disabilities. Learning materials may include printed and electronic text books, worksheets, course modules, curriculum materials etc and may be in print, audio, video, digital or graphic format.
In recent years there has been an ongoing shift from print-based learning and instructional materials to digital content. In addition, there has also been an increase in the number of students with disabilities in mainstream education.
While the advantages of use of digital educational content by students and teachers are significant, it has also become important to consider how to create accessible learning materials for students with various disabilities.
When a learning experience is provided without barriers, students with disabilities can experience all facets of education effectively. Though there will be a continuous need for specialized accommodations, there is a significant need for accessible learning materials to provide access to education for students with disabilities.
An accessible learning environment not only provides better access for students with disabilities and help you meet Section 508 compliance for digital learning.
Why accessible learning materials?
Providing accessible learning materials not only makes for a good education policy but is also a legal requirement.
The Disability Standards for Education require that people with disabilities are provided with equal access to learning experiences. It states: “the curriculum, teaching materials, and the assessment and certification requirements for the course or program are appropriate to the needs of the student and accessible to him or her” and “the course or program study materials are made available in a format that is appropriate for the student and, where conversion of materials into alternative accessible formats is required, the student is not disadvantaged by the time taken for conversion”.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) require educational institutes to ensure that textbooks and related core learning materials are provided to students who are blind or with print disabilities in alternative accessible formats in a timely manner. (A print-disabled person is “a person who cannot effectively read print because of a visual, physical, perceptual, developmental, cognitive, or learning disability”. Wikipedia)
Advantages of ensuring accessible learning materials
- Makes teaching as well as learning a better experience.
- Improves student engagement and course evaluations.
- Students spend less time figuring out individual accommodations and focus more on the course content.
- Increases student retention.
- Helps you meet compliance as per IDEA, AODA, WCAG, Section 508, EN 301 549, Section 504.
- Students with disabilities get access to STEM subjects which otherwise would be difficult.
Need Help with Accessible Learning Materials
247 Accessible Documents assist universities and educational institutes across the globe in providing students as well as educators with a disability access to textbooks, learning materials, forms, and information in an accessible format. Whether you are a single person, Disability Support Service (DSS) office or work with a dedicated team of professionals, we can support you to provide accessible learning material to your students in a timely and efficient manner.
Connect with us at 247accessibledocuments.com to plan document accessibility under Section 508 and other accessibility guidelines and standards.