Answered By: Lisa Raymond
Last Updated: Aug 07, 2015     Views: 676

Academic adjustments (accommodations) provide equal opportunity for students with disabilities. They are determined on a case by case basis by the Director of Disability Services after review of medical documentation.  Requests that alter the academic standards of the course or program are not granted. Accommodations must be requested in a timely manner.  Students registered with Disability Services must request accommodations for specific courses at least 2 weeks prior to the course start date.

 

In the online environment

Walden’s online courses are created to be accessible to a universal audience from the original design, and present very few barriers requiring accommodations for students with disabilities.  The online environment automatically provides notes to students who might otherwise require note-takers as an accommodation.  It automatically allows students to choose the optimum time of day and distraction-free environment for testing that they might otherwise request as an accommodation in a land-based college. 

However, the ever-changing landscape of online education presents challenges for ensuring universal accessibility.  Walden attempts to ensure every audio component is captioned and every visual component is easily navigable by screen readers.  Despite those attempts, there are rare times when inaccessible materials are inadvertently included.  Students who find an inaccessible component in their classroom, should contact Disability Services right away to arrange for resolution.

The most common accommodations requested by students with disabilities taking Walden’s online courses are “extra time” and “course materials in an electronic format”. 

  • Extra time:  The weekly modular format provides the flexibility needed for most students with disabilities to schedule coursework and meet deadlines.   Still, there are occasions when extra time is needed to accommodate limitations brought on by disabilities.  In such cases, qualifying students are allowed extra time to complete assignments and tests.  There is a limit to the amount of extra time allowed as an accommodation, and that limit is based on the essential components of the curriculum. 
  • Course Materials in Alternate Format:  Students with vision loss or certain learning disabilities may use assistive technology to access their course materials.  They require their texts in an electronic format (an e-file or Word document) so they can use computer software to have text read aloud or enlarged or adapted in a way that makes it accessible to them.  Often, they have the choice of purchasing texts in an e-file but sometimes they do not; Disability Services arranges to have their books reformatted as an accommodation.

 

In the face-to-face residency environment

Many Walden programs have required face-to-face components, where students physically attend 4 or 6 day sessions, usually in hotel/conference center or college campus environments.  For students with disabilities, who often have chosen an online university for the very purpose of avoiding the mobility and/or travel requirements of a land-based institution; the face-to-face component presents the only disability-related challenge requiring accommodation.  Walden has a history of providing extensive accommodations at Walden Residencies to students registered with Disability Services.  Some of the accommodations provided have included:

  • Renting equipment, such as electric scooters for mobility or Hoyer lifts for transportation from wheelchair to bed or bath.
  • Absorbing the extra-person housing cost of personal care attendants. (Walden cannot pay for the travel costs of someone accompanying a student to provide personal care, but may pay for that person’s housing.)
  • Coordinating arrangements with nearby dialysis centers.
  • Hiring local service providers, such as sight guides, sign language interpreters, or captionists.

Do you have any other questions about accommodations?  Email Disability Services at disability@mail.waldenu.edu.

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