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Accessibility & Compliance: Strategies to Increase Engagement & Retention for Online Students with Disabilities

Research reveals approximately 20% of the general population and 11% of postsecondary students identify as having a disability. However, not all institutions are in compliance with web accessibility regulations and laws. This is particularly important for online programs in which the majority of communication with potential/current students is web-based. Higher education must go beyond compliance. This session provides strategies for increasing accessibility and engagement for students with disabilities from point of first contact to matriculation through graduation.
Kristen Betts, Judy Giering, Jenny Dugger, Dan Allen
Dr. Kristen Betts is the first Director of Online & Blended Learning at Armstrong Atlantic State University. In this position, Dr. Betts is leading innovative initiatives to support student and faculty success in online and blended education. Prior to Armstrong, Dr. Betts served as the Senior Director for eLearning at Drexel University. She was also the Director of Drexel’s blended EdD in Education Learning & Management program for the Philadelphia campus and Director of the online MS in HigherEducation program. Dr. Betts has over 15 year of experience with private and public institutions as an administrator, program director, Associate Clinical Professor, and adjunct instructor. Dr. Betts publishes and presents nationally and internationally on online and blended education, student/faculty recruitment and retention, accessibility, Online Human Touch, neuroplasticity, advising, adult learning, and faculty development.
Judith Giering is the Associate Director of Instructional Design and Online Learning for Drexel University’s Goodwin College, responsible for the development of new online courses for both graduate and undergraduate programs. She has a masters degree in Information Science and Technology from Drexel University and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Learning Technologies, also from Drexel University. Judith has demonstrated expertise in use of technology in learning and the evaluation of learning with technology through her work at Drexel, as well as through her dissertation and other research. She has been instrumental in establishing guidelines for best practices in online learning and evaluation. In addition to the academic work at Drexel, Judith has managed over a dozencustom projects that Drexel has developed for corporate and non-profit organizations. Judith has been recognized for her contributions by being awarded the Drexel University Outstanding Online Instructor award in 2010 and being nominated for a President’s Award in 2008.
Jenny Dugger, as the Director of the Office of Disability Resources at Drexel University, Jenny is involved in ensuring that the programs, activities, events, services, and working environments are accessible to students, employees, and campus guests who have disabilities. In efforts to create and maintain a more accessible and welcoming campus for all individuals (including those who have disabilities) a great deal of her time is spent educating the campus community on policies, procedures, best practices, and matters of disability awareness. Jenny and her office work with all individuals with disabilities who request accommodations, including those who take and teach courses online.
Dan Allen has been designing websites for higher education and promoting best practices in online content management for over 15 years. During that time, he has been a staunch supporter of Webstandards and an enthusiastic advocate for accessible Web design. At Drexel, he creates and delivers workshops on Web accessibility and works with clients to determine Web strategies that accommodate all potential users of Web content. Along with co-presenters Judith Giering and Jenny Dugger, he is a member of the University’s online Web Accessibility Committee.