The Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education released a webinar and fact sheet on Tuesday to help educators prevent discrimination and ensure accessibility to online programs for students with disabilities as more and more schools shift their courses to the web amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The webinar focuses on the legal framework for what accessibility looks like in the context of online learning as well as the resources available for educators who are new to web-based teaching.
“OCR’s accessibility webinar is intended to remind school leaders at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels of their legal obligations to ensure that all students, including students with disabilities, can access online and virtual learning programs,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Kenneth L. Marcus in a press statement. “Students with disabilities must have access to educational technology utilized by schools, and OCR will continue to work to ensure that no student is excluded from utilizing these important tools.”
Meanwhile, the fact sheet reminds schools of their legal obligation to comply with non-discrimination obligations under the civil rights law and provides tips for preventing incidents of discrimination. The memo comes after a previous letter from Marcus condemned recent harassment and bullying of Asian students.