This chapter suggests a framework and approach for active inclusion of students with physical and cognitive differences in virtual writing classes. In some situations, virtual classrooms might be more challenging to navigate than physical spaces. A series of research projects examining online writing space accommodations for students diagnosed with cognitive challenges identified a number of obstacles (Wyatt, 2010). These obstacles ranged from color schemes that colorblind users could not differentiate to screencasts without text captioning for users with auditory challenges. Good design benefits all students and instructors. As with all good instructional strategies, those of us teaching inclusive writing courses also discover more about ourselves.
Because ethical arguments supporting inclusion might prove insufficient to persuade administrators of the need for inclusive designs, this chapter offers an overview of legal mandates. Federal law is clear: institutions of higher education must make reasonable efforts to accommodate all students. Regulations offer specific guidelines for compliance and the verification of accessibility in virtual spaces. For example, the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 requires active supports for post-secondary students with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 also gives us powerful arguments for inclusive design.
Keywords: writing, online, disabilities, accommodation