Multiple indicators show a positive trend in the number of students with disabilities enrolling in higher education programs. Equitable access to learning for these students requires that all learning materials and activities be made accessible to them. This extends to textbooks, courseware, learning management systems, instructional software programs—in short, any and all curriculum resources required for use in academic programs.
The Critical Components for the Quality Indicators for Higher Education were first released in 2018 and include actionable language for developing a coordinated system that leads to the timely provision of accessible materials and technologies in higher education settings for all students who need them.
Higher education institutions, both universities and community colleges, will find the Higher Education Critical Components of the Quality Indicators for the Provision of Accessible Educational Materials & Accessible Technologies useful for implementing statutory requirements that mandate equitable access to learning opportunities for students with disabilities, including equal access to printed materials, digital materials, and technologies.
Relevant Laws and Policies
In addition to guiding higher education institutions toward more inclusive programs, the Quality Indicators address the following laws and policies related to equal access for students with disabilities in higher education:
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as relates to the provision of auxiliary aids and services in a timely manner to students with disabilities in higher education institutions that receive federal funding
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as relates to Title II and the provision of auxiliary aids and services described in Section 504, regardless of federal funding provided to the institution
- Higher Education Opportunity Act as relates to Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Textbook Information
- Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as relates to federal technology accessibility standards in the procurement of digital materials and technologies