by Kathy Kirchoff
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the labor force participation rate among people with disabilities is only about 22 percent, compared to a 70 percent participation rate among those without disabilities. That’s a lot of wasted potential. If you’re living with a disability and looking to advance your career with more training or education, consider online learning.
Online learning makes college education more accessible for disabled students, offering certain advantages over traditional classroom learning. Online learning breaks down physical barriers and reduces the burden of transportation issues, limited classroom accommodations, time or physical restrictions, and peer pressure.
“Online higher education equals the playing field among all students, regardless of whether or not they have a disability,” says Sidney Crouch, an Ashford University student who is legally blind. “Nobody has an advantage…or a disadvantage.”
Whether or not you disclose your disability is up to you. But if you do choose to disclose your disability and can document your need for special accommodations, training institutions must ensure that you have equal access to resources such as distance learning courses, admissions, registration, computer labs, libraries, career services, learning centers, and other students services. Depending on your needs, programs can provide things like extra time to complete course work, assistive technology, online textbooks, individual tutoring and disability-related advising. Accessibility training for distance learning is making more online training programs available and increasing the awareness of student disability rights in postsecondary education.