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Information Resources Management Association
Advancing the Concepts & Practices of Information Resources Management in Modern Organizations

Universal Design of Distance and Online Learning

Universal Design of Distance and Online Learning
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Author(s): Sheryl Burgstahler (University of Washington, USA)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 7
Source title: Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Patricia L. Rogers (Bemidji State University, USA), Gary A. Berg (California State University Channel Islands (Retired), USA), Judith V. Boettcher (Designing for Learning, USA), Caroline Howard (HC Consulting, USA), Lorraine Justice (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong) and Karen D. Schenk (K. D. Schenk and Associates Consulting, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch325


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Internet-based distance-learning courses have the potential to make learning opportunities available to anyone. This potential cannot be realized, however, unless everyone can truly access course offerings. People in rural areas and from poor communities are among those underrepresented in the group of people who benefit from new technological developments. The rapid development of assistive technology makes it possible for almost anyone to operate a computer (2006 Closing the Gap, 2006). Yet many individuals with disabilities do not have access to these empowering tools (Kay, 2000). Some people with disabilities who have access to computers, assistive technology, and the Internet, still cannot fully participate in distance-learning courses because of their inaccessible design. For example, people who are blind often use text-to-speech systems that locate text that appears on the screen and read it aloud to the user. Because this technology cannot “read” graphics, it does not verbalize information embedded within graphic images. Therefore, people who are blind cannot access this content unless it is provided in a text-only format as well.

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