Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, many educational institutions around the world have become accustomed to remote learning. However, for students with disabilities, this has proved difficult.
Rose Hayes attends school and works with a team of teachers and therapists. They have been trained to help her with her genetic disorder. The staff establishes reading objectives for her. They also provide physical therapy to help her balance, and monitor her progress.
Remote learning in 2020 was challenging for her. Her parents believed it was the best they could hope for, but it was still difficult. Rose has difficulty working independently. Therefore they had to remain close by. They had to improvise because they didn’t have the therapeutic tools Rose utilizes at school.
In higher education, the lack of accessible materials has led to content removal. By 2016, the University of California, Berkeley had become accustomed to uploading numerous videos of its conferences, lectures, sporting events, graduation ceremonies, and other events on its website, YouTube, Apple Podcast channels, and other platforms, as well as its courses on the UC BerkeleyX platform.
Instead of complying with the accessibility ruling, Berkeley removed over 20,000 video and audio lectures from public view. The Justice Department stated last week that it had agreed with the institution on a proposed consent decree to resolve the 2016 claims. If the judge approves the agreement, Berkeley will “make all future and the vast majority of its existing online content accessible to people with disabilities.” Additionally, the agreement will require the university to “revise its policies, train relevant personnel, designate a web accessibility coordinator, conduct accessibility testing of its online content, and hire an independent auditor to evaluate the accessibility of its content.”
It’s 2022, and digital accessibility should be the norm. People with disabilities worldwide use the internet. For many of us, it is vital for socialization, communication, and education. Equal access to the internet needs to be a priority.
Binkley, Collin. “Remote Learning Poses Hurdles for Students with Disabilities.” AP NEWS, Associated Press, 31 Mar. 2020, https://apnews.com/1b643449253f1f453de6584917849d14.
D’Agostino, Susan. “UC Berkeley Agrees to Make Online Content Accessible.” Inside Higher Ed, Times Higher Education, 23 Nov. 2022, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2022/11/23/uc-berkeley-agrees-make-online-content-accessible.