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Scholars and practitioners agree that creating online materials that are accessible for those with disabilities will make the user experience for all users better. However, accessibility issues for students with disabilities is wrapped up in a number of layers that make it overwhelming for instructors who have been asked to move their courses online to understand.

There are legal issues (ADA and 508 in the US and a number of EU statutes, as well as other country level mandates); technology issues (LMS limitations most notably); and learning level issues (how to design for differing levels and kinds of disabilities).

While many higher education institutions will provide certain services to students with disabilities, research has shown that many students do not declare their disabilities when they get to college. Thus, accessibility for better or worse falls to instructors.

Online writing instructors (OWI) have to stop assuming that they only need the basic information. That’s the wrong stance to take. OWI shouldn’t accept the lowest common denominator as our standard. The hope for this project is that it raises the bar thereby making OWCs more accessible for all students.

Understanding accessibility also means that as a professional writer you will be better positioned to help your organization understand and implement an accessibility plan for their online presence.

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