The goal of this course is to promote equal opportunity and the full participation of students with disabilities in higher education by helping participants advance their awareness of the meaning of accessibility in education. Participants will gain competence and confidence in working with students by focusing on legislation, universal design, and assistive technologies. Thank you to Abbas (Bobby) Husain Quamar, Graduate Student Researcher in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh, for his contributions to the course.
Students come to our higher education classrooms with a wide variety of knowledge, skills, talents, and abilities. As educators, we want all of our students to be successful and feel supported in an inclusive learning environment. Many of our students have disabilities that they may or may not disclose to faculty and staff. Typically, the process of providing required documentation and identifying appropriate accommodations is a collaborative effort between the student and the disability services staff. Faculty are not a part of this process and may not be aware of the rationale or implications. In this week, we will begin with an introduction to students with disabilities. Week 1 highlights the key United States legislation that relates to higher education students with disabilities and describes the process of obtaining support services.
Accommodations and Assistive Technology
This week we describe the process used for deciding on reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and the role of Disability Services in making this determination. We identify specific accommodations that students with disabilities might need in order to fully participate in life at the university.
In Weeks 1 and 2, we reviewed disability definitions and legislation, plus the disability services, accommodations, and technologies that you might find on your college campus. In Week 3, we focus on the design and development of your course materials. We use the term “universal design” to emphasize the inclusive design of instruction to make it meaningful and useful for all students. We also look at best practices for documents such as using clear fonts, organizing text with headings, and describing images with alternative text.
Please read the following case studies and respond to the corresponding questions on the discussion boards.