Online Education, Not for Blind People

The potential for online delivery to improve educational quality is debatable, but virtual education does have the advantage of at least delivering more content to more people. If a college can deliver course material online, all one really needs to take the course is a laptop.

Well, unless you have any significant disabilities. According to a piece at CityTownInfo:

As online education and educational technology–such as e-readers–make college accessible to a wider audience, it has also created an obstacle for blind students. “When faculty or course developers hear about a new tool being introduced at a distance education conference, they want to bring it home and try it out,” said Kelly Hermann, chair of the Online Education Special Interest Group at the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD). “But what they fail to recognize is where that new tool might create barriers to accessibility.”

While there is sophisticated software available to help blind students access information, most of this software can’t actually process new online learning programs.

Consider software that makes use of changing images, often a central component of online content delivery, how can that ever work for blind students?

Even very basic things like college websites are often practically useless for blind students.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer