Inclusion of students with disabilities in online learning environments

How can I as a new teacher include my students with visual or auditory disabilities in online learning? I know that there are restrictions for using some Virtual Worlds. Has anyone come up with a way to use it so that students can collaborate in the experience? What about programs like Moodle? Can they be adapted with auditory enhancements? I would appreciate feedback. Thanks in advance.

Tags: 504, moodle, online, specialneeds, virtualworlds

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You might check that your web site or online learning environment meets accessibility guidelines. (This will ensure that tools that disabled people use, like screen readers, work.) Here are some resources on this:

http://www.w3.org/WAI/eval/Overview.html

http://www.csun.edu/accessibility/checkpoints.html

http://aprompt.snow.utoronto.ca/

Hope this is useful.
Thank you so much for these sites!
Thank you for these resources as well, Karen. I am a Virtual School Developer and I find this type of information useful as a reference for my online teachers and course developers.
Visually impaired students will probably use a screen reader. You can find a number of resources available for making content accessible to screen readers. You don't have to provide an audio equivalent for everything as long as your students have the right software to read it to them. JAWS is a common screen reader, but even Firefox add-ons like Click Speak and Accesibar can make a big difference in an LMS like Moodle. Virtual worlds like Second Life are harder, partly because everything has to be accessible by keyboard. Linden Labs does have some documentation of their accessibility features.

For students with hearing impairments, provide a text equivalent for any audio. If you have video, provide real-time captions if you can and a transcript if you can't. Second Life should actually work fine for someone with a hearing impairment as long as you use text chat instead of voice.

WebAIM has a wealth of resources on general web accessibility. I recommend starting with their Intro to Web Accessibility. Ira Socol's SpeEdChange blog has lots of ideas about accessibility specifically in education.
Thank you so much for these sites!
Thank you, Christy, for sharing this as well! I surely am interested to know more about Click Speak since Ysleta Virtual School will be using Moodle as our Learning Management System. I have not tried Accesibar, but will surely be trying this as well.
Hi Lorraine,
You might want to check out Karen Janowski's blog
http://teachingeverystudent.blogspot.com/

She's an expert on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and using technology to offer access to all kids, and her blog is a wealth of resources and ideas. She's a member here too!
http://www.classroom20.com/profile/KarenJ
Thank you so much for these sites!

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