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Perceptions of Accessibility in Online Course Materials: A Survey of Teachers from Six Virtual Schools

, University of New Mexico, United States ; , University of Kansas, United States

Journal of Online Learning Research Volume 6, Number 3, ISSN 2374-1473 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC USA

Abstract

Ensuring accessibility is an important concern for students with disabilities in online learning environments, including virtual schools. Previous research suggests that there is widespread confusion about what constitutes accessibility when designing instructional materials and who should be in charge of ensuring materials are accessible. Also, accessibility is often conflated with concepts like personalization, aesthetic appeal, and engagement. Accessibility is a critical issue as state educational agencies enable fully asynchronous classes with low levels of interaction between learners and teachers. As virtual schools come under corrective action failing to provide appropriate services to students with disabilities, learning about accessibility in those contexts is particularly vital. Moreover, states may begin to consider policies they made many years ago and determine their efficacy. In this study, 111 teachers from six virtual schools that were facing corrective action due to low graduation rates participated in a survey about their perceptions of the accessibility of the instructional materials for their online courses. The survey yielded a 42% response rate. Responding teachers perceived that their instructional materials were “somewhat” accessible with a wide dispersion of response data. Implications for these findings in light of previous research and in light of their corrective action status are offered. The study also stands as an example of a state reconsidering policies made before there was sufficient research to support a decision and the implications for critical data points like graduation rate.

Citation

Rice, M. & Oritz, K. (2020). Perceptions of Accessibility in Online Course Materials: A Survey of Teachers from Six Virtual Schools. Journal of Online Learning Research, 6(3), 245-264. Waynesville, NC USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved August 15, 2022 from .