Online Learning Accessibility in Open Education


Scheduled at 8:00am in Cotton Creek II on Wednesday, November 15 (2017).



  • Mary Ziegler, Program Manager for Online Accessibility, MIT

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: All Levels
  • Type of session: General Conference


Open educational initiatives and Massive Online Open Courses are connecting global learners to higher education curriculum, creating new opportunities and challenges for learners with disabilities. This presentation shares and invites thoughtful consideration of the approaches to accessibility in online, open learning environments.


Online learners engage with content, converse, and share knowledge across physical boundaries – relying fully on features provided to them in a web- or mobile-based design and technology platform. The opportunity to access learning in the location and with the device and assistive technology of the learner's choosing is attractive to many learners with disabilities.

As accessibility specialists in higher/open education, our challenges are: - Influencing accessible design and development of educational technologies, - Guiding instructors and content providers presenting learning in an accessible manner, - Understanding when an accommodation process is warranted, and - Engaging with learners with disabilities to understand and improve their experience.

In this presentation, we review key aspects of open education that support learners with disabilities and where there is opportunity for improvement.


  1. Gain an appreciation of the unique value of accessible, open education for persons with disabilities.
  2. Understand the key aspects that influence accessibility in open education.
  3. Identify areas where accessibility in online learning would benefit from new approaches or solutions

Disability Areas

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Teaching about Accessibility in Curriculum, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Mary Ziegler

Mary Ziegler is Program Manager for Online Accessibility at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Office of Digital Learning. Previously, Mary led the Accessibility and Usability Group and the Assistive Technology Information Center at MIT. Throughout her career, Mary has been instrumental in creating numerous initiatives, collaborations and technology implementations each designed to increase access for students and global learners with disabilities.