Seeing People with Disabilities as a Culture in the E-Learning Environment

Seeing People with Disabilities as a Culture in the E-Learning Environment

Kathy Keller (Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-989-7.ch018


A statement by the President’s Council on Disability: “Technology for most people makes things easier. For people with disabilities, technology makes things possible.”
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Types Of Disabilities

Vision Impairment (Blind, Low Vision, or Color Blind)

  • A blind person will not be able to see the computer monitor, the PowerPoint, or the video and may be using Braille output or a screen reader. A person with low vision may use ZoomText or the web browser to enlarge the text on the computer monitor. Make sure your presentation can accommodate these types of assistive technology. Also consider that during a webcast, visual information such as images, charts and graphs will not be seen by participants who are visually impaired. This does not have to be a problem if you include this type of important information in the audio portion of the training. If there is no audio component, include this information in the content of the training. In other words, do not use images alone to convey important information.

  • Color blindness affects 8 to 10% of males of European origin. If important information is conveyed by color only, such as, “All form fields in red are required” some of the audience will not see it, and consequently, be left out. Do not use color alone to convey important information. Use words along with color to enhance usability for everyone.

  • Low vision users require sufficient contrast between the text, or images of text, and the background. A contrast ratio of 4.5:1 is optimum. Learn more about contrast ratio and luminosity at Gez Lemon’s Juicy Studio, a tool on the AIS Accessibility Toolbar. (see Do your Homework).

  • When using video, consider audio description to make sure that non-visual learners have access to all the information. One type of audio description is a synchronized audio file that accompanies a video or movie. In the quiet areas, a voice is describing the most important visual information such as who are the important players, place, time of day, dress, people (character information), action/movement/body-language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Don’t be afraid to use color as a descriptor. Some visual impairments are acquired later in life, so color can be very meaningful. If synchronized audio description is not available or necessary, set the stage with a text description as an introduction to the video. This can be useful for everyone, not only people with vision impairments.

Hearing Impairment (Hard of Hearing, Deafness)

  • Use captions with movies and video so people who are deaf and hard of hearing have access to all the information. Captions are useful for others as well. If anyone is not sure exactly what was said, the information can quickly be found in the captions. It is also useful to people who have English as a second language. Search engines can find files with captions as well. In fact, you can consider search engines as blind and deaf because they can only search for textual information.

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