[Pibe-division] inaccessible online classrooms/assessments etc.

Rene Harrell rjharrell at gmail.com
Tue Nov 18 23:51:41 CST 2008

Can we discuss online learning and assessments a bit? I'd love some more
information and feedback on this topic.

It's come up recently in my State about a growing problem with online
curricula and assessments not being accessible to blind/low-vision children
who need to use screen readers or magnification software. I know there was a
discussion on a parent listerv that encompasses all disabilities about a
family that was attempting to use K-12 for their homeschool program, but
could not because it is not accessible to blind children. When called, the
company said it was a "copyright" issue and could not make their program
compatible with screen readers. I've heard from a smattering of other
parents about tests that have had to be modified because they were online in
an inaccessible format.

There was quite a discussion going on about this today on a policy/educator
level. TVIs are expressing frustration that more and more of the school
districts are turning to online curricula and assessments, but they are
inaccessible to blind children. They complain to the school, but the school
says it is a vendor issue. So far, complaints to vendors haven't brought
about any changes to the current software being used and distributed.

My daughter is homeschooled so this is an issue I have not had to confront
or deal with personally. But, it seems to be a growing problem for students
and teachers here, and they're trying to figure out what they can do about
it. I'd love to hear about how others have worked around this issue, or if
this has been a problem for anyone else? Are these software companies
violating ADA for making their programs inaccessible?

As more and more colleges turn towards online formats, and K-12 school
districts follow suit, I wonder if we're going to see this become a growing
issue in the years ahead? What kind of steps can we take to be proactive on
this issue?

Wisdom and thoughts are appreciated.


" I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up
where I needed to be."
-- Douglas Adam
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