Massive Open Online Courses (“MOOCs”) are free online courses offered by institutions of higher education to individuals across the world, without any admissions criteria. Through web-based courses hosted by MOOC platforms, such as Coursera or edX, student-participants learn by accessing media, including documents, pictures and uploaded lectures on the course website.
While MOOCs may make access to education easier for individuals with certain disabilities, their format may render the courses inaccessible to individuals who have vision or hearing impairment. Many individuals with vision impairment use “assistive technology,” such as screen readers and voice recognition software, to use computers and access the Internet. Individuals with hearing impairment, meanwhile, often rely upon captioning when watching videos. Therefore, MOOCs may be inaccessible for individuals with vision or hearing impairment if the websites are not designed to work with assistive technology or if the lectures are not captioned or transcribed. If the MOOC courses are inaccessible to students with certain disabilities, the institutions and/or the platform providers may be found to have violated the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.
Anastasopoulos, Nicholas and Baer, Amanda Marie
"MOOCs: When Opening Doors to Education, Institutions Must Ensure That People with Disabilities Have Equal Access,"
Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy: Vol. 0
, Article 39.
Available at: http://thekeep.eiu.edu/jcba/vol0/iss9/39