Making E-Mail Accessible for Students with Disabilities
Georgia Institute of Technology. Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access
Georgia Tech Research on Accessible Distance Education (GRADE)
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One industry source estimates that over 31 billion e-mails are sent each day around the world. E-mail is so widely used in education that most, if not all, students are assigned an e-mail address during the registration process. In distance education, e-mail is especially important because it may be the only way that students can communicate directly with instructors. E-mail is widely used by students with disabilities, in part because it is one of the few information technologies that incorporates universal design principles. Students who are deaf or hard of hearing routinely use e-mail to communicate more effectively. Students who are blind or have low vision can easily read e-mail through screen readers or other assistive technologies. Students with mobility impairments can use e-mail to discuss issues with instructors around the world or across the street. Instructors should be aware, however, that e-mail may pose barriers for some students with disabilities. The following are tips that instructors should use to ensure that their e-mail messages are accessible and usable for all students.