Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

(See the end of this page for subscribing via email, RSS, browsing articles by subject, blog archive, APH resources, writing for Fred's Head, and disclaimers.)


Friday, September 14, 2012

How Can Distance Learning Be Made More Accessible?

By Donna J. Jodhan

I'd like to answer the following frequently asked question: 

How can distance learning be made more accessible to blind and visually impaired people?

Many blind students today continue to face huge barriers when it comes to being able to take advantage of distance learning classes.  Many professors are often at a loss as to how to make their courses more accessible to blind and partially sighted students.  Believe it or not, there is a happy medium and I'd like to offer some suggestions.

The first thing to remember is that accessibility should be viewed through the eyes and ears of the student and not through those of the professor.  Each individual has a unique or specific need and no two students are alike.  A good start would be as follows:

1. Make sure that your student can access web content on your website independently.  That is, that the student does not have to depend on sighted assistance to navigate the website.  

2. Make sure that your forms are accessible.  That is, that the student can read it with their access technology; screen readers and screen magnifiers and they would need to ask for sighted assistance to do so. 

3. Make sure that your student can use these forms to do such things as request and search for information, and complete tasks without having to ask for sighted assistance.

4. Your student should be able to obtain information in alternate formats; braille, large print, in MSword, HTML, RTF, and TXT versions of files. 

5. Documents and files should be made available on CDs and/or flash drives.

6. Your student should be able to complete online exams without having to seek sighted assistance and they should be given additional time to do so if they require it.

7. If the student is required to write their exams at a center, the center should be equipped with the required access technology.  That is, whichever hardware the student uses along with the appropriate software. 

8.  Videos should contain adequate audio description. 

I hope that these points can help to give you a good start.  It is not as daunting as you may think.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:

(Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all)

(Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility)

(Weekly features on how to increase your success with your business ventures)

No comments:

Subscribe to receive posts via email

* indicates required

Browse Articles by Subject

Follow us on Twitter


Write for us

Your input and support in the evolution of Fred's Head are invaluable! Contact us about contributing original writing or for suggestions for updating existing articles. Email us at


The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) makes every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the Fred's Head articles; however, APH makes no warranty, guarantee, or promise, expressed or implied, concerning the content or accuracy of the information provided in Fred's Head. APH does not endorse any technique, product, device, service, organization, or other information presented in Fred's Head, other than products and services directly offered by APH.

The products produced by the American Printing House for the Blind are instructional/teaching materials and are intended to be used by trained professionals, parents, and other adults with children who are blind and visually impaired. These materials are not intended as toys for use by children in unstructured play or in an unsupervised environment.

The information and techniques contained in Fred's Head are provided without legal consideration (free-of-charge) and are not warranted by APH to be safe or effective. All users of this service assume the risk of any injury or damage that may result from the use of the information provided.

Information in Fred's Head is not intended as a substitute for professional advice or treatment. Consult your physician before utilizing information regarding your health that may be presented on this site. Consult other professionals as appropriate for legal, financial, and related advice.

Fred's Head articles may contain links to other websites. APH is not responsible for the content of these sites.

Fred's Head articles created by APH staff are (C) copyright American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. You must request permission from APH to reprint these articles. Email to request permission.

Any submissions to Fred's Head should be free of copyright restrictions and should be the intellectual property of the submitter. By submitting information to Fred's Head, you are granting APH permission to publish this information.

Fair Use Notice: This website may contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright holder(s). This site is operated on the assumption that using this information constitutes 'fair use' of said copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law.

Opinions appearing in Fred's Head records are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Printing House for the Blind.