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Distance Learning: Universal Design, Universal Access Article

, University of Washington, United States

AACE Journal Volume 10, Number 1, ISSN 1065-6901 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Chesapeake, VA


Distance learning courses offer opportunities for education and career enhancement for those who have access to the technologies they employ. However, many people find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide that separates those with access to new technologies and those without. Even if they have access to these technologies, some people with disabilities find themselves on the wrong side of a second digital divide that is caused by the inaccessible design of coursework. This paper discusses access, legal and policy issues, and it presents an overview of design considerations for assuring that a distance learning course is accessible to potential instructors and students with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. The field of universal design provides a framework for this discussion. The content of this article can be used to help distance learning programs develop policies, guidelines and procedures for making their courses accessible to everyone.


Burgstahler, S. (2002). Distance Learning: Universal Design, Universal Access. AACE Journal, 10(1), 32-61. Norfolk, VA: AACE.


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