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Working with students with profound and severe disabilities is a challenge. What presents as the most challenging aspect is finding a way to allow students to access materials and information in a sensible and effective way. Designing instruction that allows access for all is challenging, but what is more interesting is to see the way that others design materials on a global level. When instructional designers create instructional models and implement learning units, considering the limitations of users on a global level can change the design itself.

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Within a classroom setting, there are several ways that users can modify their interaction with online materials including text- to-speech or speech-to-text software. For a lot of students with learning disabilities, this helps immensely. For students with visual limitations, designing pages that are easy to zoom can make a big difference when an individual tries to accommodate for their abilities. Even students with physical disabilities can accommodate for their abilities by accessing pages with pointer devices. While these are great accommodations for the user to make, as a designer, thinking about global users can make their experience more enjoyable and significantly easier.

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Where I had failed in the past to understand the needs of global users is by considering the limitations people of different socio-economic, geographical, educational, and access points may need to use e-learning modules. I have always designed with the disabled learner in mind. And much of that access has happened on the user side. To see and better understand the accessibility accommodations an instructional designer can make actually upset me! It suddenly became clear the lack of accessibility that is designed for in so much of what is online. Creating pages, learning modules, and online materials that address accessibility has the potential to make the learning of those with disabilities all the more possible.

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What, if any, obligation do you think designers have to include accessibility in their instructional design?

 

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