Experiences of the Students with Blindness and Visual Impairments in Online Learning Environments with regards to Instructional Media


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Virginia Tech


Accessibility is a very important criterion to make online learning inclusive to students with different abilities. According to Burgstahler, Corrigan and McCarter (2004) unless design of the courses are accessible to all students, including those with disabilities, the ultimate goal of distance learning to make education available to everyone cannot be accomplished. However, accessibility is rarely a priority for online course developers and students with disabilities are not considered as a large group (Treviranus and Roberts, 2006). This exploratory case study investigated the experiences of the students with visual impairment in online learning environments with regards to media used in their courses with the intent of providing suggestions for accessible media design. Media included text, visuals (pictures, diagrams, charts, and graphs), audio, and multimedia (video and animation) used in online learning environments. This study used a purposive sampling technique and participants who are visually impaired, who had an online course experience, and who are older than 18 years old were included in the study. A semi-structured interview protocol was developed and participants were asked about challenges they experienced and what worked well for them in terms of media in online learning environment. Because of the lack of scientific research examining design of online learning for students with visual impairment, this dissertation fills an important research gap and also makes contributions to the field of Instructional Design and Technology by providing students' perspectives and suggestions for accessible design. Suggestions provided in this study is valuable in terms of designing accessible online courses and that there is a lack of information and guidance for answering the needs of students with visual impairment in online learning environments.



Accessibility, Online Learning, Visual Impairment