In 2018, EDUCAUSE and its Center for Analysis and Research released their 5th annual study of undergraduate students and information technology. More than 64,000 students from 130 U.S. and international institutions were surveyed. Using the results they were able to make generalized statements relating to technology, activities, and access to resources.
Accessibility is a large part of the survey and is not only an ethical issue but a legal one thanks to The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. One major problem colleges and universities face is awareness of the accessibility needs of their students.
Of the 7% of student respondents who self-identified as having a physical and/or learning disability requiring accessible or adaptive technologies for their coursework in 2018, a concerning 27% rated their institution's awareness of their needs as poor.
Students' poor ratings of their institutions' awareness of their needs have increased by 16 percentage points in the past three years. Although this is worrisome, other areas have improved. 42% of students with a disability surveyed their support was good/excellent. 58% of students with physical disabilities reported their institutions had poor awareness of their need for accessible technology, versus only 7% of students with learning disabilities and 8% of students with both.
The results prove IT accessibility is a problem for students with disabilities. Institutions have a lot of room for improvement according to the students surveyed. The issue is these institutions aren't aware of their students' needs and need to be able to track them efficiently.
To increase support and awareness for students with disabilities EDUCAUSE recommends the following:
- Work with outside sources to test and implement accessible technology in order to close gaps
- Provide staff with accessibility workshops to better understand the needs of the students increase awareness
- Revise any materials to be optimal for all audiences and destigmatize barriers
- Advise faculty of the legal implications if guidelines are not followed
- Do not ban laptops from classes
This report suggests students with disabilities and accessibility services staff in higher education could benefit from a central hub for consolidating and managing all aspects of the accommodations process. Having a convenient and stress-free way of submitting accommodations requests reduces the stigma surrounded by student needs and can lead to greater success. Accommodate by Symplicity helps higher education institutions modernize their accommodation request process with a fully-ADA compliant interface. To learn more about how Symplicity is focused on empowering your university to be more inclusive, download our whitepaper or schedule a conversation with us.