Why Does Accessibility Make a Difference at Wentworth?
Approximately 12% of Wentworth students report a diagnosed disability. Based on national statistics and issues around stigma it is safe to assume that many more students are diagnosed with disabilities and choose not to disclose to the University. Over 90% of Wentworth students who disclose a disability have learning, developmental and psychiatric disabilities which are considered invisible disabilities because they are not always immediately obvious. The five major categories of disability are:
- Visual – Examples: blindness, low-vision, color-blind
- Hearing – Examples: deaf and hard of hearing
- Motor – Examples: not having the use of certain limbs and/or paralysis
- Speech – Examples: unable to speak or have a speech impediment
- Cognitive – Examples: dyslexia, autism, ADHD
Given that we know 12% of Wentworth students disclose a diagnosed disability that is most likely invisible (i.e. learning, developmental, and psychiatric disabilities) and that it is safe to assume many more students with diagnosed disabilities do not disclose due to concerns around stigma, it is essential that accessibility is built into course materials from the beginning.
Universal design for learning practices can help all students by giving them options that support different learning styles and preferences. Today, digital content can be consumed with more flexibility, such as how it is read with smartphones, electronic devices and even with assistive technology. It is important to provide clear content organization with descriptions that can enhance student engagement and promote student success.