Making distance education accessible for students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing.

Distance education is based on providing learning “anytime, anywhere.” The design of many distance education courses, however, may actually erect barriers to the full participation of some students with disabilities, particularly those with hearing impairments. Without careful consideration, distance education could become learning anytime, anywhere, but not for anybody. It is not only unethical, but also illegal to ignore the special needs of these learners. The specific impact of such legislation on distance education for those students with hearing impairments will be addressed. Students with disabilities are often faced with a double digital divide that must be bridged. Universal design uses an excellent proactive approach to closing this digital divide caused by inaccessible courses. Each medium of transmission in distance education poses unique access barriers. Even within the same medium, what is best for one student or class may not be the most ideal accommodation in another situation. Individualized accommodation methods will be examined, and specific technologies and software will be discussed.