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2020 ECAR Study of the Technology Needs of Students with Disabilities

EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) recently released the findings of their Study of the Technology Needs of Students with Disabilities, 2020. In their Data Bytes summary, Dana C. Gierdowski and Joseph Galanek outline the study methods and key findings of the study. They also provide a useful infographic that covers how to build accessible infrastructure using Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Within their summary, Gierdowski and Galanek explain that the researchers compiled information about academic technology needs of students with physical and learning disabilities based on almost 2,000 open-ended responses from students with self-reported disabilities. These students provided the researchers with data about what kinds of learning technologies they would like to see their instructors use to improve their learning experience. The two main themes they discovered were (1) online access to materials and resources and (2) teaching with technology. Within the first theme, patterns included availability of class notes and presentation slides; online access to assignments, tests, and quizzes; recordings of lectures; and the LMS user experience. Within the second theme, patterns comprised issues surrounding teaching with technology, mobile device use in the classroom, adequate technology training for students and faculty, multimodal learning, and use of technology to increase engagement, particularly the use of assistive/accessible technologies.

Ultimately, the authors recommend using CAST’s Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles to facilitate students’ academic success and counteract barriers to learning through effective use of educational technology. They also note that UDL principles make learning accessible to all students, regardless of disability status.

To learn more about UDL, visit CAST’s resources and information “About Universal Design for Learning.”

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