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The challenges of distance learning and accessibility

| Oct 1, 2020 | Accessibility

People all across Ohio are experiencing unprecedented obstacles as kids head back to school this year. These challenges can be particularly disruptive for students with additional needs in the school setting.

And many students may not be able to rely on parents for the accommodations they might otherwise receive during a typical school year. Such can be the case for students who do not live at home and those with parents who are unavailable during school hours. And as a result, teens and college students can face unique difficulties when distance learning.

Older students and accessibility problems

If you or your child is in high school or college, accessibility issues related to distance learning can derail academic performance.

A primary issue is technological limitations. Low-income students might be unable to afford the computers, printers and stable internet access necessary to participate fully in classes. And if a student would typically utilize assistive devices in school, like recorders, calculators and translators, they may not have access to those when they are away from school.

A lack of contact with support staff can also inhibit learning. At school, a student may have aides, tutors and other professionals to help them. Away from school, these resources may be less available and possibly less effective.

And it is not just the learning element of distance learning that can complicate life for students with additional academic needs. Being at home during school be distracting, isolating and stressful in ways that make it all but impossible for a young person to be active, productive participants in a class.

Overcoming these challenges

There are numerous things students can do to overcome these challenges, as articles like this one explain.

Students can reach out to teachers and support staff to communicate any concerns or obstacles they are facing. They can explore financial services that are in place to help low-income families secure the tools they need for school. They can do their schoolwork in a location away from home.

These solutions can be effective, but they all rely on the student to figure out what they need. When this is not possible, or these efforts are not sufficient, parties can explore the legal measures and resources that are in place to help students with accessibility needs get the education they deserve.