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Universally Designed Virtual Classrooms: Making Online Learning Accessible to all Students

1 January 2016


As higher education continues to incorporate technology, universities must address the accessibility of virtual environments, including online courses. However, legislation specific to the accessibility of technology only applies to federal institutions. Because of the low legal risk, private universities must consider the universal benefits of providing accessible virtual environments for all students, including social justice and enhanced learning experiences. Building upon accessibility standards, universal design (UD) proactively considers potential users’ needs, so all users can benefit from the space. Using an occupational therapy perspective, this paper analyzes the current state of online course accessibility at a private university to identify methods for achieving accessibility and implementing virtual UD principles. This author developed a checklist for educators to assess the accessibility and UD of their course. Educational materials were developed to provide rationale of how virtual UD can enhance learning experiences and promote social justice for all students.


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