The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Education Tech Can't Leave Disabled Students Behind
The Department of Education estimates
11% of new college freshmen will arrive on campus with some sort of disability.
That’s become a huge issue as institutions try to keep pace with technological
changes while providing accessibility to all its students, whether they have
vision or hearing problems to learning and cognitive disabilities.
State and federal legislators have
stepped up with laws and regulations to provide equal access, and the industry
is making progress. Blackboard claims its products meet industry standards and
must gain approval from people with disabilities through partnerships with
organizations such as the National Federation for the Blind before they ever
reach the market.
But laws often have no teeth,
according to Dianne Hengst, director of disability services at the University
of Texas at San Antonio in a recent articlethat appeared at mysanantonio.com. Not
only that, Hengst has also found students with disabilities do not always
register with her office.
“(People with disabilities) don’t
want to be segregated,” said Marti Hathorn, a blind graduate of UTSA and assistive
technology supervisor at the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind. “We don’t
want our own computer lab. I didn’t want to be left out of anything or cut
corners. I wasn’t (in school) to get by, I wanted to do better than everyone
Assistive technology could be as
simple as curbs with handicap ramps and speech recognition software to more
controversial ideas such as cochlear implants for children. For Hathorn, it
included a screen magnifier, a closed-circuit television, and a scanner for her
“When computer usage first took off, accessibility
wasn’t even brought to the table,” she said. “Now it is starting to be a
priority and is part of the discussion and more people with disabilities are