Colleges Lock Out Blind Students Online!

Dear Commons Community,

The lead article in this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education deals with the issue of college websites being inaccessible to students with disabilities.  Specifically, the article describes several situations where services are provided online that cannot be used by blind students.  The article’s author, Marc Parry covers higher education technology issues for the Chronicle and generally does a fine and thorough job and the same is true here.   An example of the issue is a new student union that Arizona State University put up last year.   However, it is entirely virtual – made of “bits not bricks” – and is inaccessible to blind students.   The article goes on to state that “colleges wouldn’t dare put up a new building without wheelchair access but routinely roll out digital services…that are inaccessible”.  Of particular interest to us here at CUNY is that Blackboard drew praise from the National Federation of the Blind for the “great improvement” in the latest release of its course management system.


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