Faculty Perceptions on Accessibility in Online Learning: Knowledge, Practice and Professional Development
Keywords:Accessibility in Online Learning, Faculty Development, Transformative Learning, Online Learners with Disabilities
This study examined the level of readiness of faculty in designing and delivering accessible online courses to meet the needs of all learners, including students with disabilities. A total of 182 tenured/non-tenured full time, part-time, adjunct and clinical faculty from three public universities of different sizes were surveyed to gauge their awareness, understanding, and practices related to disability laws, quality standards, utilization of tools, and professional development support. Results from the study indicated an uneven level of readiness by faculty regarding online learning accessibility. Results from the study showed that professional development training in online learning had a very significant influence on accessibility knowledge and practice. Also, high perceptions of knowledge for institutional policy and terminology and low perception of accessibility laws and standards were found. It is also found that training on disability-related laws and regulations provided by higher education institutions was insufficient and at times, does not align with the faculty’s schedule. Given the results of the study, it is recommended that higher education institutions reorient their approach to supporting faculty who teach online and develop a comprehensive strategy to reach the goal of helping all students, including students with disabilities, to fully engage online learning. The findings from this study have implications for course development and implementation to support students with disabilities.
Allen, I. E. & Seaman, J. (2014). Grade change: Tracking online education in the United States. https://www.onlinelearningsurvey.com/reports/gradechange.pdf
Allen, I. E. & Seaman, J. (2017). Digital learning compass: Distance education enrollment. https://onlinelearningsurvey.com/reports/digtiallearningcompassenrollment2017.pdf
Alnahdi, G. (2014). Assistive technology in special education and the universal design for learning. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology 13(2), 18–23.
Austin, A. E., & Sorcinelli, M. D. (2013). The future of faculty development: Where are we going? New Directions for Teaching and Learning (133), 85-97.
Basham, J.D., Stahl, S., Ortiz, K., Rice, M.F., & Smith, S. (2015). Equity matters: Digital & online learning for students with disabilities. Lawrence, KS: Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities.
Betts, K., Cohen, A., & Broadus, C. (2013). Strategies to increase online student success for students with disabilities. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(3), 49–64.
Brain Injury Association of America. (2019). Assistive technology acts. Retrieved from https://www.biausa.org/public-affairs/public-policy/assistive-technology-act
Brooks, C. F. (2010) Toward ‘hybridised’ faculty development for the twenty‐first century: Blending online communities of practice and face‐to‐face meetings in instructional and professional support programmes. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 47:3, 261-270.
Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E. (2000). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership. National Association of Secondary School Principals. NASSP Bulletin, 84(612), 88.
Bowman, O. J. & Marzouk, D. K. (1990). Using the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to empower university students with disabilities. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 46, 450-456.
Burgstahler, S. (2003). Accommodating students with disabilities: Professional development needs of faculty. To Improve the Academy, 21(1), 179-195.
Burgstahler, S. (2015). Opening doors or slamming them shut? Online learning practices and students with disabilities. Social Inclusion, 3(6), 69-79.
CAST. (2019, January 29). UDL in Public Policy. http://www.cast.org/work-with-us/udl-public-policy.html#.XGokepNKhZ0
Chapko, N. (2017). Faculty Voices: Barriers to Implementing UDL Strategies. In P. Resta & S. Smith (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 2516-2520). Austin, TX, United States: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). https://www.learntechlib.org/primary/p/177559/.
Chingos, M., & Baum, S. (2017). The federal-states higher education partnership: how state manage their roles (pp. 1–18). https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/90306/2017.4.26_how_states_manage_their_roles_finalized_4.pdf
Cohen, A. M., & Kisker, C. B. (2010). The shaping of American higher education: Emergence and growth of the contemporary system (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Cohn, J., Stewart, M. K., Theisen, C. H., & Comins, D. (2016). Creating online community: A response to the needs of 21st century faculty development. The Journal of Faculty Development, 30(2), 47-57.
Coombs, N. (2010). Making online teaching accessible: Inclusive course design for students with disabilities. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Coy, K., Marino, M., & Serianni, B. (2014). Using universal design for learning in synchronous online instruction. Journal of Special Education Technology, 29(1), 63–74.
Craig, S. L., Smith, S. J. & Frey, B. B. (2019) Professional development with universal design for learning: supporting teachers as learners to increase the implementation of UDL, Professional Development in Education, DOI: 10.1080/19415257.2019.1685563
Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among five approaches (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Dell, C., Dell, T., & Blackwell, T. (2015). Applying universal design for learning in online courses: pedagogical and practical considerations. Journal of Educators Online, 12(2), 166-192.
deMaine, S. D. (2017, July 26). From disability to usability in online instruction. Law Library Journal, 106, 531
Diefenderfer, A. B. (2019). Faculty Development in the Age of Evidence: Current Practices, Future Imperatives by Andrea L. Beach et al. The Review of Higher Education, 42(2), E-1.
East, L., Stokes, R., & Walker, M. (2014). Universities, the public good and professional education in the UK, Studies in Higher Education, 39(9), 1617-1633.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). (2020). U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. https://www.eeoc.gov/
Federal Communications Commission (FCC). (2017). 21st century communications and video accessibility act (CVAA). https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/21st-century-communications-and-video-accessibility-act-cvaa
Gappa, J.M., Austin, A.E., & Trice, A.G. (2007). Rethinking faculty work: Higher education’s strategic imperative. New York, NY: Nolan Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Gladhart, M. A. (2010). Determining faculty needs for delivering accessible electronically delivered instruction in higher education. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 22(3), 185-196.
Guilbaud, T. C. (2019). Faculty perception of knowledge and practice in designing and implementing accessible online courses (Publication No. 27547307.) [Doctoral dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte]. ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.
Hadley, W., & Archer D.E. (2017). College students with learning disabilities: An at-risk population absent from the conversation of diversity. In E. Kim, & K.C. Aquino (Eds.), Disability as Diversity in Higher Education: Policies and Practices to Enhance Student Success (pp. 107-121). New York, NY: Routledge.
Helland, S. E. (2017, September 26). Class action plaintiff targets universities and colleges for website accessibility claims: Fordham and three others sued in one week [Web log post]. https://www.fredlaw.com/news__media/2017/09/26/1640/class_action_plaintiff_targets_universities_and_colleges_for_website_accessibility_claims_fordham_and_three_others_sued_in_one_week
Herman, J.H. (2012). Faculty development programs: The frequency and variety of professional development programs available to online instructors. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(5), 87-106.
Hollingshead, A. (2017). Designing engaging online environment: Universal design for learning principles. In Milheim, K. L. (Ed.), Cultivating diverse online classrooms through effective instructional design (Chap. 14). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
Huss, J. A., & Eastep, S. (2016). Okay, our courses are online, but are they ADA compliant? An investigation of faculty awareness of accessibility at a midwestern university. i.e.: inquiry in education, (8)2, Article 2. http://digitalcommons.nl.edu/ie/vol8/iss2/2.
Izzo, M. V., Murray, A., & Novak, J. (2008). The faculty perspective on universal design for learning. Journal of Postsecondary Education & Disability, 21(2), 60–72.
Katsiyannis, A., Zhang, D., Landmark, L., & Reber, A. (2008). Postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities: legal and practice considerations. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 20(1), 35-45.
Kay, R. H. (2012), ‘Exploring the use of video podcasts in education: A comprehensive review of the literature’, Computers in Human Behavior 28(3), 820–831.
Keengwe, J., & Kidd, T. (2010, June). Towards best practices in online learning and teaching in higher education. http://jolt.merlot.org/vol6no2/keengwe_0610.htm
Ko, S., & Rossen, S. (2017). Teaching online: A practical guide (4th ed.). New York: Routledge.
Kuhlenschmidt, S. (2010). Issues in technology and faculty development. In K. H. Gillespie, & D.L. Robertson (Eds.), A Guide to Faculty Development (pp. 259-274). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Lederman, D. (2018, November 7). Online education ascends. https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2018/11/07/new-data-online-enrollments-grow-and-share-overall-enrollment
Linder, K. (2016). Implementation of and solutions for closed captioning in U.S. institutions of higher education: Results from a national study (Report 2016). Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Ecampus Research.
Linder, K. E., Fontaine-Rainen, D. L., & Behling, K. (2015). Whose job is it? Key challenges and future directions for online accessibility in US Institutions of Higher Education. Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 30(1), 21–34.
Loftus, P. (2019, January 05). District court: Harvard/MIT captioning lawsuit going forward. https://www.3playmedia.com/2016/11/08/mass-district-court-decision-harvardmit-lawsuit-will-go-forward/
Lombardi, A. R., & Lalor, A. R. (2017). Faculty and administrator knowledge and attitudes regarding disability. Disability as diversity in higher education, 107-121.
Lunenburg, F. C. (2012). Organizational structure: Mintzberg’s framework. International Journal of Scholarly, Academic, Intellectual Diversity, 14(1), 1-8.
Madaus, J., Kowitt, J., & Lalor, A. (2012). The higher education opportunity act: Impact on students with disabilities. Rehabilitation Research, Policy, and Education, 26(1), 33–41.
Manning, K. (2013). Organizational theory in higher education. New York: Routledge.
Marchetti, C. (2011). The importance of interaction for academic success in online courses with hearing, deaf, and hard-of-hearing students, The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 12(6), 1-19.
McQuiggan, C. (2012). Faculty Development for Online Teaching as a Catalyst for Change. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(2), 27-61.
Meyer, K. A. (2014). An analysis of the research on faculty development for online teaching and identification of new directions. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(4), 93–112.
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). (2019). The NCES fast facts tool provides quick answers to many education questions (National Center for Education Statistics). https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=60
National Center on Disability and Access to Education (NCDAE). (n.d.). Providing training for faculty and staff: An essential element for your campus. http://ncdae.org/resources/tips/training.php
Oswal, S. K., & Meloncon, L. (2014). Paying attention to accessibility when designing online courses in technical and professional communication. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 28(3), 271-300.
Patton, L. D., Renn, K. A., Guido-DiBrito, F., & Quaye, S. J. (2016). Student development in college theory, research, and practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Perez, T. E., & Ali, R. (2010, June 29). U.S. Department of Education. Joint - Dear colleague letter: Electronic book readers. https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-20100629.html.
Quality Matters (QM). (2018). Accessibility policy creation guidelines. https://www.qualitymatters.org/research
Rodesiler, C., & McGuire, J. (2015). Ideas in practice: Professional development to promote universal design for instruction. Journal of Developmental Education, 38(2), 24-31.
Roehrs, C., Wang, L., & Kendrick, D. (2013). Preparing faculty to use the quality matters model for course improvement. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 9(1), 52-67.
Rogers-Shaw, C., Carr-Chellman, D. J., & Choi, J. (2018). Universal design for learning: Guidelines for accessible online instruction. Adult Learning, 29(1), 20–31. https://doi.org/10.1177/1045159517735530
Rose, D. H., Meyer, A., & Hitchcock, C. (2011). The universally designed classroom: Accessible curriculum and digital technologies. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
Rothstein, L. (2010, August 06). Higher education and disability discrimination: A fifty-year retrospective. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1653466
Schmidt, S.W., Tschida, C.M. & Hodge, E.M. (2016). How faculty learn to teach online: What administrators need to know. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 19(1). http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring191/schmidt_tschida_hodge191.html
Seale, J. K. (2014). E-learning and disability in higher education accessibility research and practice. New York, New York: Routledge
Simoncelli, A., & Hinson, J. M. (2008). College students with learning disabilities personal reactions to online learning. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 38(2), 49–62.
Stevens, C. M., Schneider, E., & Bederman-Miller, P. (2018). Identifying faculty perceptions of awareness and preparedness relating to ADA compliance at a small, private college in NE PA. American Journal of Business Education (AJBE), 11(2), 27-40.
Terosky, A. L., & Heasley, C. (2014). Supporting online faculty through a sense of community and collegiality. Online Learning,19(3), 147-161.
Terras, K., Leggio, J., & Phillips, A. (2015). Disability accommodations in online courses: The graduate student experience. Journal of Postsecondary Education & Disability, 28(3), 329–340.
Tobin, T. (2014). Increase online student retention with universal design for learning. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 15(3), 13-24.
U.S. Department of Education. (2018). Protecting Students with Disabilities. https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html
U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), (2014). University of Montana Resolution Agreement (PDF). http://www.umt.edu/accessibility/docs/AgreementResolution_March_7_2014.pdf
U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). (n.d.). IT accessibility laws and policies. https://www.section508.gov/manage/laws-and-policies
U.S. Department of Justice. (2009, July). A guide to disability rights law. https://www.ada.gov/cguide.htm
Vasek, D. (2005). Assessing the knowledge base of faculty at a private, four-year institution. College Student Journal, 39(2), 307–315.
Wattenberg, T. (2004). Beyond legal compliance: Communities of advocacy that support accessible online learning. The Internet and Higher Education,7(2), 123-139.
Web3c WAI. (n.d.) Web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) overview. https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/IT Accessibility Laws and PoliciesWorld Health Organization. (2011). World report on disability (Report 2011). Malta: WHO Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data.
Wright, G. (2011). Student-centered learning in higher education. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 23(1), 92–97.
Wynants, S. A., & Dennis, J. M. (2017). Embracing diversity and accessibility: A mixed methods study of the impact of an online disability awareness program. Journal of Postsecondary Education & Disability, 30(1), 33–48.
Yuknis, C., & Bernstein, E. R. (2017). Supporting students with non-disclosed disabilities: A collective and humanizing approach. In E. Kim, & K.C. Aquino (Eds.), Disability As Diversity In Higher Education: Policies and Practices to Enhance Student Success (pp. 3-18). New York, NY: Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an Informa Business.
Zumeta, W., Breneman, D. W., Callan, P. M., & Finney, J. E. (2012) Financing American higher education in the era of globalization. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
As a condition of publication, the author agrees to apply the Creative Commons – Attribution International 4.0 (CC-BY) License to OLJ articles. See: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
This licence allows anyone to reproduce OLJ articles at no cost and without further permission as long as they attribute the author and the journal. This permission includes printing, sharing and other forms of distribution.
Author(s) hold copyright in their work, and retain publishing rights without restrictions