Effective Design Model To Include Learners With Undisclosed Disabilities In Online Learning

Concurrent Session 2

Brief Abstract

Although attention to online course accessibility has increased over the past several years many faculty report a significant number of learners with undisclosed disabilities enrolling in classes.  This panel discussion will showcase a new design model along with techniques and tools for developing courses that are responsive to learner needs.  Building in learner support tools will stimulate individualized learning and increase learner retention especially among those with undisclosed disabilities.  


Tina Calandrino has worked as an educator in higher learning for over 25 years. She began her college career as Faculty at Miami-Dade College, and later St. Petersburg College. She has embraced what technology can do for students, and sought to share that knowledge with other educators around the world. Currently serving as Instructional Design Faculty at the University of Central Florida's Center for Distributed Learning, her research currently focuses on Competency Based Education, and Faculty Development for Online Learning.

Extended Abstract

In the last few years, many colleges and universities have had to reach settlement with the U.S. Justice Department over alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  In 2013, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights charged 5 states’ higher educational systems to ensure that all LMS are accessible to learners with disabilities whether they self-disclosed or chose to remain undisclosed.  At the heart of these cases was a belief that many higher education institutions were not doing enough to ensure that all learners were receiving equal access to learning materials without undue burden.


A number of online faculty report that learners do not disclose that they have a disability until about six weeks into the semester.  Making adjustments to an actively running course to support an accommodation is very difficult.  Furthermore, many learners never disclose their disabilities resulting in a low grade or failure. 


This panel discussion will shed light on using Universal Design for Learning to build an online course that would meet the needs of learners with undisclosed disabilities by working to stay ahead of the curve.  The online course experience of learners with various disabilities and corresponding design solutions will be discussed.  The panelists will also demonstrate how by enabling online course productivity tools the academic environment will become more welcoming and inclusive   of diverse learners especially those with undisclosed disabilities.