This Community Idea Exchange electronic poster presentation summarizes recent intersections of disability and technology in higher education, along with specific examples of simple practices in accessibility and universal design. While the information focuses on higher education, e-learning has the potential to transform any learning environment into an accessible experience.
In the ideal world, teams of instructors would deliver university courses to small groups of students, using methods that would render all material accessible to everyone, regardless of physical, mental, or learning ability and disability. But because the built environment of most of the world is flawed, many people with disabilities of mobility are unable to get to, or inside, the university. Deaf students are, almost everywhere, not properly accommodated with a sign language interpreter or other means to have access to classroom lectures and discussion. Blind people, too, except in rare circumstances, are deprived of essential information in the regular classroom, and people with various learning disorders may not be able to learn properly in the traditional classroom setting. Until and unless the world becomes accessible to all people and all learning styles, e-learning offers accommodation to people with nearly any set of disabilities. People with disabilities have demonstrated that they are capable of attaining advanced degrees and that they themselves are capable of disseminating higher learning. Ed Roberts (died 1995), for example, was a pioneer in fighting for access to higher education in the United States; a long list of accomplished scholars with disabilities supports his vision.