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Study: Most K-12 Online Learning Content Does Not Meet Needs of Students With Disabilities

Wed, 04/06/2016

LAWRENCE Online education is growing rapidly, reaching millions of students every day. However, a Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities at the University of Kansas study has found the majority of online educational products are not designed to meet the needs of students with disabilities and struggling learners.

Sean J. Smith, professor of special education and a co-principal investigator with the center, has authored “Invited In: Measuring UDL in Online Learning.” The report analyzes how six popular vendors of online learning products meet the principles of Universal Design for Learning, or UDL, the concept that education should be designed to meet the needs of all students. It also provides a tool that K-12 school districts across the country can use to evaluate online education programs they are using or considering for their students.

National Federation of the Blind and Amazon Join Forces to Improve Accessible Reading Experiences for Blind and Low-Vision Students

BALTIMORE, March 2, 2016 /PRNewswireUSNewswire/

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and Amazon announced today that they will be working together to increase selection, enhance accessibility, and improve reading experiences for blind students, including those who have low vision or who are deaf-blind.

Amazon and the National Federation of the Blind will collaborate on improvements to Amazon’s education content, platforms, and applications, and will meet on an ongoing basis to review progress and exchange ideas and feedback. Initial results of this collaboration are expected this year and beyond.

Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Kent State University to Resolve Allegations of Discrimination in University-Operated Student Housing

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Justice Department announced today that Kent State University (KSU) has agreed to pay $145,000 to settle a civil rights lawsuit alleging that the university had maintained a policy of not allowing students with psychological disabilities to keep emotional support animals in university-operated student housing.

Under the settlement agreement, which must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, KSU will:

  • pay $100,000 to two former students who sought and were denied a reasonable accommodation to keep an emotional support dog in their university-operated apartment;
  • pay $30,000 to a fair housing organization that advocated on behalf of the students;

Badeyes Launches Second Online Book in Its “WordPress for Badeyes” Series!

Learn how to build your own Personal or Business website.
by Geof Collis

After putting the finishing touches on my second Book: Build an eCommerce, Membership site with Community Forum it can now be purchased as a standalone or as part of a number of Discounted Bundles.

For more details visit

Campus Group Works to Enhance Statewide Instructional Accessibility Goals

November 24, 2015
Tennessee Today

The University of Tennessee(UT) System recently adopted a policy that reiterates its commitment to providing and supporting a teaching and learning environment that is accessible to all.

The policy requires that all campuses and institutes provide information, materials, and technology that are accessible to individuals with disabilities, including those who use assistive technologies. The Accessibility Policy went into effect on October 16.

Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek has charged a team of faculty, staff, and students to develop a strategy to exceed policy requirements and further the campus’s accessibility goals. Heather Hartman, summer sessions coordinator is chairing the accessibility implementation team. The team has worked to launch a new website to promote awareness and provide resources for the campus community.

Blind Girl, Seven, Banned From Using White Stick at School as it is ‘Health and Safety Risk’

Bristol primary school says seven-year-old pupil can no longer use her walking cane because it could trip up teachers and other children By Agency
17 Nov 2015

A blind girl has been banned from bringing her white walking stick to school because of “health and safety” reasons.

Lily-Grace Hooper, seven, suffered a stroke when she was just four days old, leaving her with virtually no sight.

But her school, Hambrook Primary School in Bristol, has told the youngster she can no longer use her cane because it could trip up teachers and other pupils.

Inclusion More Common At Charter Schools, Report Finds

By Shaun Heasley
November 12, 2015

Kindergarten students line up for lunch at a charter school in Los Angeles. Findings from a new report suggest that special education enrollment is on the rise at charters.

Long derided for welcoming too few kids with disabilities, a new report finds that a growing percentage of charter school students qualify for special education.

About 10.4 percent of students at charter schools have disabilities compared to 12.5 percent of those attending public schools. Children with disabilities at charters, however, are far more likely to attend classes alongside their typically-developing peers.

Deaf Metis Woman Wins Human Rights Case Against UBC, St. Pauls Hospital

Tribunal awards lost wages and $35,000 for loss of dignity and self-respect by Brian Morton of the Vancouver Sun and published on July 8, 2015.

A B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has awarded a deaf Métis woman lost wages and $35,000 for injury to her dignity and self-respect for not being provided with sign language interpreters during her University of B.C. medical residency.

The discrimination entirely undermined her optimism, brilliance and efforts, said tribunal member Marlene Tyshynski in a written decision released June 30.

Opening the Web to the Disabled

Sunday, October 04, 2015

WE CAN. Raising digital literacy among persons with disability (PWDs) is not just equipping them to benefit from the limitless opportunities for personal advancement available on the Internet. Web accessibility can also empower PWDs to share the stake and move society.

DOMINATING current public discourse is the viral controversy stirred up by college students who failed to recognize Apolinario Mabini. The Sublime Paralytic and the brains and conscience of the Philippine Revolution was a major character in the popular and critically accepted film, Heneral Luna.

Overshadowed were events like the 2015 Apolinario Mabini Awards, which recognized outstanding persons with disability (PWDs) and advocates promoting the rights and welfare of PWDs during a Sept. 29 ceremony held at the Malacañang Palace.

DOJ Puts Pressure on Schools and Ed Techs to Provide Accessible Educational Technology

Nancy Anderson, Michael Goldstein, Paul Thompson | Cooley LLP

In our last alert on the growing interaction between ed tech and disability law, we noted that the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) appears to be moving to extend the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) to reach entities other than schools that provide online educational programs and services.

Another recent DOJ enforcement effort in the education space serves as an important reminder to schools and colleges that they must carefully consider their obligations under the ADA when adopting new learning technologies.

Blind Parent Wins Battle for Access to Online Seattle School Resources

Seattle Public Schools will hire an accessibility coordinator as part of a consent decree between the district and a blind parent of a Seattle student.

By Paige Cornwell
Seattle Times, September 23, 2015

Seattle Public Schools will make its website and other online resources more accessible to blind students, faculty members and parents as part of an agreement tied to a lawsuit filed by a blind parent last year.

The Seattle School Board voted Wednesday to enter into a consent decree to settle the lawsuit, which alleges the districts websites and an online math program werent accessible to those who are blind.

MUN Prof Refuses to Wear Device for Hearing Disabled Student, Cites Religious Reasons

Ranee Panjabi was involved in a similar situation about 20 years ago

By Todd O’Brien and Geoff Bartlett
CBC News
Posted: September 16, 2015

History major William Sears of Memorial University in St. John’s depends on an FM transmitter to hear instructors in the classroom. (Todd O’Brien/CBC)

A Memorial University student with a hearing disability is upset that one of his professors refused to wear a sound-transmitting device last week during a lecture, and he said she told him it was because of religious reasons.

William Sears, 20, says Ranee Panjabi would not wear an FM transmitter system that he needs to hear lectures at the school in St. John’s.

UT Arlington Libraries Become First in Texas to Digitize Disability History

Monday, August 31, 2015
Media Contact: Bridget Lewis, Office:817-272-3317, Cell:214-577-9094,

In the early 1970s, University of Texas at Arlington students who used wheelchairs had their choice of majors: history or accounting. Those two degrees were the only ones whose classes were held in wheelchair-accessible buildings.

Since then, the University has steadily improved access and opportunities for students with disabilities and become a model campus for adaptive sports.

UT Arlington Libraries are set to continue this legacy with a $25,000 TexTreasures grant from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to digitize and publish disability history relating to UTA and Texas.

New Affordable Tablet-Based Intelligent Game Helps Children With Learning Disabilities

Those who work with children and adults with developmental and language disorders are constantly looking for tools to help boost performance through training.

GeoBee! from new tech start-up VisionMechanic, Inc., is a new intelligent, accessible, and affordable tablet game for training basic skills needed for success in the classroom.

OKOTOKS, Alberta, Sept. 1, 2015

Reggie and Anita live in a small community. Like many other families today, they are affected by obstacles to learning and reading: Their son T. is a very smart very capable boy in Gr 3, but he struggles with making sense of words on a page. While they appreciate the support they get from local sources, they are always looking for additional tools to help their son move forward.

Students Create 3D Printed Tactile Map of Campus for Visually Impaired

by Bridget Butler Millsaps · May 10, 2015

While 3D printing has most definitely blasted open a new world for designers and hobbyists, specific areas like cartography have received a real boon in progress. Because a map is all about being able to place yourself somewhere and visualize everything in a particular spot, it can be frustrating doing so only in 2Drequiring your mind to add the imaginary 3D element.

With new technology, and especially 3D printing, mapmakers are now able to put geographies and locales into tangible form. While this is extremely helpful and exciting to the general layperson, imagine how incredibly useful such maps are to the visually impaired, truly taking some of the darkness out of traveling on foot.

Improving Online Accessibility for Students a Major Issue for Schools

By Bridget McCrea
March 27th, 2015

Getting schools onboard with accessible learning is a struggle that Kara Zirkle is all too familiar with. As IT accessibility coordinator at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., she says resistance to change, particularly in the cultural senseis fairly natural and tends to stand in the way of even the best intentions on the assistive learning front. To overcome this obstacle, she says schools should institute solid policies and procedures that address all federal (i.e., ADA) and state accessibility requirements.

On the K-12 front, she says the board of education, principal, and technology directors should be part of an effective “top-down” approach to accessibility. Without these key players on the team, Zirkle says such initiatives can quickly become fragmented and ineffective.

Why Online Ed Accessibility is not a “When We Get to It” Issue

By Bridget McCrea
March 3rd, 2015

As several high-profile lawsuits surface around accessibility of web content, colleges and universities must take the steps necessary to shore up their own approaches to online accessibility of web content.

accessibility-universities-onlineIn the era of online learning, colleges and universities are quickly learning that it’s not enough to provide online contentthe content must be accessible for all. But how can institutions provide online accessibility; and is it a legal requirement?

Harvard, MIT Sued Over Lack of Closed Captioning Online

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Feb 12, 2015
Associated Press

Advocates for the deaf sued Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Thursday, saying the universities failed to provide closed captioning for online courses, podcasts and other educational programs.

The National Association for the Deaf filed class action lawsuits in federal court, saying Harvard and MIT discriminated against the hearing impaired and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The association said much of Harvard’s and MIT’s online content was not captioned, was inaccurately captioned or was unintelligibly captioned, making it inaccessible. Advocates for the deaf say they’re not seeking a financial windfall but rather permanent injunctions against the universities mandating that all their online materials include closed captioning, interpretive text displayed onscreen.

Higher Education Websites Unsuitable for Special Needs Students, says Report


A new study has found that poorly-designed Irish higher education websites could be contributing to significant dropouts among students with particular disabilities because they cannot access certain assignment services.

The study which was undertaken by Siteimprove analysed 20 Irish higher education websites with every site failing to meet 44 basic international standards to allow students with disabilities access the same online materials and tools that those without disabilities can.

Quoting the Institution of Education Sciences, the report says that the number of students with disabilities dropping out of higher education before completing their degrees is nearly double that of the average student.

New iBooks® Textbook Helps Visually Impaired Visit the Stars Through Touch, Sound

SAS, Space Telescope Science Institute Inspire Passion for Science in Students CARY, NC–(Marketwired – September 04, 2014)

A free, multitouch iBooks Textbook for iPad® is now available to inspire students of all abilities to pursue futures in science. Reach for the Stars: Touch, Look, Listen, Learn (opens in new window/tab) incorporates new, assistive technologies so children with visual disabilities, too, can experience striking deep-space images like never before.

Free for download from Apple’s iBookstore(SM), Reach for the Stars (opens in new window/tab) was created for iPad by analytics provider SAS and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).