Although it should be the goal of educators to make learning accessible to all students because it is the right thing to do, it is also a legal obligation. Different legislation such as Sections 504 and 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act, require that everyone is given the opportunity to access digital resources and a fair education. It is important to understand all legislature and guidelines that you are required to follow in order to provide accessible learning to all students.
- [Voiceover] There is legislation in place that helps to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to resources. Some of the more important ones in the United States education system include the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which ensures that students with disabilities are provided with free, appropriate public education that's tailored to the individual needs. This is where IEPs, or Individualized Education Programs, come in. If a student doesn't qualify for an IEP, they may qualify under Section 504 of the U.S. Workforce Rehabilitation Act.
This is a federal law that requires a school district to provide a free and appropriate public education to each child with a disability. Under their 504 plan is where any accommodations would come in that the student needs to be successful in school. In 1998, the U.S. Workforce Rehabilitation Act was amended. As part of this, Section 508 requires federal agencies to make electronic or informational technologies available for all people with disabilities. Now, it's important to understand this legislation, and how it impacts your classroom.
Work with your special education department or administrators to understand each IEP, 504, or any other learning plan that a student has. You are legally obligated to follow these plans. I want to point out a couple good websites where you can learn more about this legislation. The first is at understood.org, and here they have an article that's called, The Difference Between IEPs and 504 Plans. And it does a really good job of showing you the difference between the two in many different categories.
I suggest checking this out. Another one is at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where they go over certain things such as Section 508. You can read more here, and they have access to a bunch of other resources. And finally, is at section508.gov, which will give you a lot of information about Section 508 and what its requirements are. Be clear about any other laws that exist, including ones at the state level. Also, if you're not in the United States, check to see what legislation your country has in place.
There are a lot of great resources out there, and I suggest you learn more about this topic.
- What is accessible learning?
- Accommodating different needs, from vision impairments to lack of digital access
- Adapting presentations, responses, and timing
- Using an LMS to make learning more accessible
- Adding alt text to images
- Adding closed captioning to videos