Do Online College Classes Benefit Students with Disabilities?

Online Education for Students with Disabilities

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For some students with disabilities, finding a college that provides the right learning environment can be difficult. Online classes just might provide an answer.

Ever since the inception of online learning programs, studies have been conducted to determine their effectiveness for students with disabilities, and the findings vary. When it comes down to it, the effectiveness seems to depend on the individual student.

Online Classes Help Some Students with Certain Learning Disabilities

The benefits of online learning usually turn out to follow fairly logical patterns for certain situations. When considering postsecondary schools, the GW HEATH Resource Center found that a student with a learning disability may benefit from an online course. They write, "if courses are web-based so lecture notes or videos of presentations are available online and can be viewed multiple times, then students have natural supports built into a course." They and others have noticed that students with learning disabilities who have a hard time retaining information provided in traditional classroom settings, benefit from the unlimited availability of information often provided by online classes. But does e-learning help students with other kinds of disabilities?

Attending College Online is the Answer for Some Students with Physical Disabilities

In recent years, more students who could not attend traditional classes on campus due to limitations in note taking and mobility, have turned to online classes to get their degrees. According to an article produced by Microsoft, Todd Pasquale, a quadriplegic, graduated with the help of online learning: "although he enjoy[ed] being able to attend classes on campus whenever he [could], in many ways online learning made his life as a student much easier, Pasquale said ... Taking classes online allowed Pasquale to take his own class notes via his computer, rather than face the often difficult challenge of hiring a note-taker on campus to attend classes with him." Because of this and reasons that limited his access to his local campus, Pasquale found that attending college online was his best option. But this doesn't necessarily suggest that all students with disabilities will succeed in online classes.

Online Learning is not the Answer for All Students with Disabilities

Though online programs have made strides in recent years towards providing accessible information and technology for all people with disabilities, colleges who provide classes online are not yet able to do so for everyone. Studies and trials are still being done to find the best ways to provide quality online classes to students with certain disabilities.

If you have a disability and are considering attending college online, the odds are getting better and better that the online program you choose will provide the right e-learning environment for you. But, before you enroll, make sure to check with the school and classes to make sure they are suited to your style of learning and/or that they use the technology that is being created to help you to succeed in college.

"Online Learning Helps Make College Accessible to Students with Disabilities." Microsoft