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ERIC Number: EJ1063959
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jul-22
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1938-5978
MOOCs: When Opening Doors to Education, Institutions Must Ensure That People with Disabilities Have Equal Access
Anastasopoulos, Nicholas; Baer, Amanda Marie
New England Journal of Higher Education, Jul 2013
Massive Open Online Courses ("MOOCs") are free online courses offered by institutions of higher education to individuals across the world, without any admissions criteria. Through web-based courses hosted by MOOC platforms, student-participants learn by accessing media, including documents, pictures and uploaded lectures on the course website. While MOOCs may make access to education easier for individuals with certain disabilities, their format may render the courses inaccessible to individuals who have vision or hearing impairment. Many individuals with vision impairment use "assistive technology" such as screen readers and voice recognition software to use computers and access the Internet. Individuals with hearing impairment, meanwhile, often rely upon captioning when watching videos. Web developers may find assistance within the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division's publication entitled "Accessibility of State and Local Government Websites to People with Disabilities," which provides helpful guidance for website compliance under the ADA and Section 504. Specifically, the division suggests that web developers refer to the "Web Content Accessibility Guidelines" for recommendations on making web content more accessible for individuals with disabilities, such as the recommendation that all prerecorded audio be captioned. Toward this goal, institutions should insist that contracts with MOOC platforms address each party's responsibility in providing accessible content and addressing the other requirements outlined in the Voluntary Action Plan.
New England Board of Higher Education. 45 Temple Place, Boston, MA 02111. Tel: 617-357-9620; Fax: 617-338-1577; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Americans with Disabilities Act 1990; Rehabilitation Act 1973 (Section 504)