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Kayla Smith

Robert Wolfe
ETEC 424
October 24, 2018

Discussion #4: ADA, Online Instruction & Section 508

ADA, Online Instruction, and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, what do these three

reforms have in common? The acronym ADA stands for Americans with Disabilities Act. This is

an act put in place for our population with disabilities, to protect them from discrimination. “The

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities

in several areas, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications

and access to state and local government’ programs and services.” (“Americans with Disabilities

Act” N.D.) Online Instruction is just what is says it is, instruction, and learning, that takes place

through an online classroom setting. During online instruction, the professor, or instructor, and

the student are not in the same place, most of the time, they never even meet each other. “In an

online class, all of the instruction is provided online, and no face-to-face classroom instruction is

required.” (“Definitions of Online Instructions” N.D.) This type of learning would be for people

who want to better themselves through higher education courses, but cannot attend face-to-face

courses, because of work, children, or a busy lifestyle in general. Section 508 of the

Rehabilitation Act was put in place for our population with disabilities as well, only this act was

put in place to deal with the technology aspect. “Section 508 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of

1973 which requires that electronic and information technology developed, procured,

maintained, or used by the Federal government be accessible to people with disabilities.”

(“Questions and Answers About Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998”

N.D.) How do these three reforms relate to Online Instruction? Let’s take a look and see.

The Americans with Disabilities Act protects individuals with disabilities from

discrimination because of their disability, whether it be physical or mental. “To be protected by


Kayla Smith
Robert Wolfe
ETEC 424
October 24, 2018

the ADA, one must have a disability, which is defined by the ADA as a physical or mental

impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history

or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an

impairment.” (“Introduction to the ADA” N.D.) The ADA along with Section 508 of the

Rehabilitation Act assist in helping our population of people with disabilities go about their lives

as normally as they can. They work together to provide laws and regulations for students with

disabilities to be able to be able to participate, as well as be successful, while taking Online

Instruction courses. “These laws establish a firm legal basis for the requirement that IT procured,

developed, and used by postsecondary institutions be accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Together these statutes require that campus offerings — including those made available through

applications software, websites, videos, PDF files, and other IT — be available to all students,

faculty, staff, and visitors for whom they are designed, including individuals with disabilities.”

(“ADA Compliance for Online Course Design” 2017) Accessible instructional designs lead to

less modifications and, or, accommodations having to be used. Without accessible instructional

designs, modifications or accommodations must be given to all students who live with a

disability. Now that accessible instructional designs are available, accommodations and

modifications are being used less and less. There is no need for a modification or an

accommodation to be used if the student is able to complete the course work with the use of

assistive technology or accessible instructional designs. “Among the most common

accommodations made for students with disabilities in online courses are the addition of captions

to videos for students who are deaf and the remediation of documents to make them accessible to

students who are blind and use screen readers to access content or who have dyslexia and other
Kayla Smith
Robert Wolfe
ETEC 424
October 24, 2018

learning disabilities that make reading easier when they can see printed words and listen to them

spoken at the same time. Proactively developing, procuring, and using accessible software,

websites, videos, documents, and other IT reduces the need for accommodations.” (“ADA

Compliance for Online Course Design” 2017)

In our everchanging world, acceptance of individuals with disabilities is becoming more

and more prominent. Without these laws protecting our population of individuals with

disabilities, they would not be able to attend college, much less an online instructional course.

These laws were put in place for a reason. It is vital that they are enforced, so that our peers with

disabilities are given the opportunity to succeed in their online courses, just like a person without

a disability. “’Accessible’ means a person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to acquire

the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person

without a disability in an equally effective and equally integrated manner, with substantially

equivalent ease of use. The person with a disability must be able to obtain the information as

fully, equally, and independently as a person without a disability.” (“ADA Compliance for

Online Course Design” 2017)

Without these reforms our population of individuals would not be able to attend, let alone

succeed, in an online class setting. I suspect even bigger and better things to come to help our

individuals with disabilities to succeed. Until then, we have to make sure we are following the

guidelines set by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act

for Online Instruction.


Kayla Smith
Robert Wolfe
ETEC 424
October 24, 2018

Americans with Disabilities Act, N.D. https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/disability/ada

Definitions of Online Instructions, N.D. http://www.richland.edu/online/definitions

Questions and Answers About Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of

1998, N.D. https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/communications-and-it/518-

questions-answers-about-section-508-of-the-rehabilitation-act-amendments-of-1998

Introduction to the ADA, N.D. https://www.ada.gov/ada_intro.htm

ADA Compliance for Online Course Design, S. Burgstahler, January 30, 2017

https://er.educause.edu/articles/2017/1/ada-compliance-for-online-course-design