Distance Learning and Disabled Students
by Jeff Redding
I am writing about my experience as a disabled student. I started attending my local community college in 1995 as part of my vocational rehabilitation program with the Veterans Administration.
During a two year period I attended school, I wanted to finish what I started. Unfortunately, I only completed about 30 credit hours and was dropped from the program.
My disability was vision impairment, I am not totally blind, but I need adaptive equipment in order to read. Driving myself to school was no longer an option.
Prior to attending school I had a background in Administration, Marketing, and Management. Twelve years as a Yeoman in the Navy, a short term as a U. S. Commerce Reprehensive, and three years as a Fund Raising Telemarketing Manager gave me plenty of confidence in my abilities. I didnít feel disabled.
My first year of school was filled with access problems. It was hard to get adaptive equipment; reading text books was very time consuming. By my second year I had solved my access problems, but I still had time problems.
In order to participate in the VAís Voc Rehab program I was required to attend school full time. This was very difficult for me. The Community College I was attending was in the next town over. It took me four buses and two hours one way to get to school.
Rather than having my GPA drop, I dropped classes. However, this would also result in my being dropped from the VAís Voc Rehab Program since I was no longer attending full time.
I thought I found a solution with Distance Learning. However, this was 1995-6 and the VA was not into Distance Learning. I had requested to attend Thomas Edison State College, which was one of the first schools to offer accredited distance learning courses online. They even offered credit for Life Experience, I had plenty of that and could have probably attained a bunch of credits for my previous experience.
The VA denied my request to attend a Distance Learning School. My counsel actually told me that it would be good for me to attend class and learn social skills. This upset me, I donít have a social problem, I have a vision problem. I think the cost had more to do with the denial than anything else.
This little setback didnít stop me from learning. With the help of the Internet and some other blind people I met online, I learned how to design websites and use the latest in Internet communication technology.
Since 1996 I have been developing and designing websites. I donít make money, but I think I will in the future. I am quenching my thirst for knowledge on the Internet. I have learned a lot.
My websites get about 50,000 page views per month. That is about 20,000 people that regularly visit my websites every month. I am happy that I have accomplished this much.
Most of my visitors go to Linkable.org. This website links together the Personal Websites of PEOPLE who happen to have a disability.
Another popular website I designed is:
This website has over 400 pages of News Feeds which are updated every 15 minutes.
I am writing now because of my new website/project.
Please check it out! You will learn about using live voice chat and much more to enhance your distance learning capabilities. Blind people use this technology to teach other blind people online. We want the sighted online distance teaching community to embrace this technology.
Donít be afraid of new technology, it is helpful technology! (It is not really new, blind people have been using this for years.)
Education is for everyone! Help you school give everyone access!
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