The following is in response to a few questions. Without providing the questions, here’s my response:

As this article on online learning accommodations points out, “new delivery methods for education create new challenges to our assigned role in assuring access for students with disabilities” (DAIS Online Toolkit). Being responsive and supportive of students with special needs is required by law. This is shared in the information cited below:

No person shall, by any reason of his or her disability be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in any services, programs, or activities of an entity covered by the law…Under Section 504, children with disabilities must be educated with their nondisabled peers “to the maximum extent appropriate,” and “removal . . . from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.” (Read Source).

This is important because virtual learning opportunities are now one of the benefits to students. But how can virtual learning be an option for students who have special needs or learning disabilities? One possibility is that students with temporary disabilities can have their needs met (consider Brian Crosby’s class interaction with Celeste, a homebound student). One of the key points that is often missed when discussing the needs of special needs students is the social aspect of learning. These social aspects have to be explicitly taught. As a result of communication with students, “positive group formation” and learning can occur (Read source). It is also important to accommodate for student learners with disabilities. To ensure participation for the student learner, it is important to provide an accommodation or supplementary aid/service necessary. Learning disabilities may be defined as a disorder in one or more basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written. This disability may manifest itself as an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical cal­culations (Source).


The left-thumb blogger is afforded the opportunity to publish to a global audience. This reminds me of autistic Carly, a student who, when given a computer, was able to express herself in ways NEVER imagined autistic students could communicate.

Strategies afforded by new web technologies allow students that have learning disability to side-step their “different ability” and learn via various media (e.g. podcasts, videos), as well as be engaged in creating their own content using a variety of tools (e.g. VoiceThread.com, ShowBeyond.com). For students that second language learners, or English Language Learners, we can see that tools like ShowBeyond.com are helpful; consider this example to build vocabulary in target language. Additionally, other accommodations might include the following as mentioned in the previous source:

  • giving a student extra time on an exam
  • providing hard copy or online model assignments
  • coordinating phone numbers or e-mail addresses for classmates who will share class notes
  • providing training in assistive technology
  • making class notes available on the Web
  • planning clearly-designed Web formats
  • planning both auditory and visual learning and testing options

(Click on the link for clearly-designed Web Formats…very helpful!).

To be responsive to a learner’s needs, the facilitator needs to take advantage of the entire toolkit of multimedia tools available, providing multiple learning opportunities that bypass a disability that might be focused on listening, thinking, speaking, reading, writing, spelling or involve mathematical calculations. By embedding rich choices for content review and creation, this becomes an opportunity for students to learn with each other in a way that is specific, or differentiated, for them–all by design.


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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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