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Virtual Learning

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My favorite story is when a dad literally sat back and started crying and said, ‘I've had to fight for every little accommodation in every single setting for my son. This is the first time I have not had to fight.’

Delaina Tonks, Mountain Heights Academy Principal

The CITES Virtual Learning Project focused on promising practices related to educating and supporting students with disabilities and their families in virtual school programs. Central to this work was identifying what technologies are used in these settings and how students who require assistive technology (AT) to access instruction are supported.

With virtual and hybrid learning opportunities now a part of the educational system, leaders must consider how to meet the needs of students who require AT to access digital learning from home or other settings. In fact, it is required that students with disabilities can “acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services” as students who do not have disabilities “in an equally integrated and equally effective manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use” (Joint Letter US Department of Justice and US Department of Education, June 29, 2010).

Project Research & Products

The CITES Framework guided the analysis of interviews and surveys from five virtual school programs and multiple non-profit organizations that support virtual learning. The data was analyzed and a variety of resources were developed.

Explore the content to support your understanding of AT and accessibility in virtual learning environments and to access examples of inclusive technology policies and practices in action.

For an overview of this work, check out the Digital Learning Collaborative (DLC) blog post, All Means All: Inclusive Online Learning Opportunities provides a summary of CITES Virtual learning research and resources to support students participating in part time or full time virtual learning environments.

Virtual Learning Project Summary

This document includes background information related to this research including the rationale, methodology and process, resources specific to supporting students with disabilities in virtual learning environments and a selected annotated bibliography.

Download the Virtual Learning Project Summary

Virtual School Program Overviews

This document includes overviews of five virtual school programs. For each school the overview provides details related to the overall school mission, demographics, delivery model, curriculum and professional learning practices. Specific to students with disabilities there are sections on Assistive Technology (AT)/Accessible Educational Materials, IEP/504 plans, special education supports and the school's accessibility statement. 

  • Garnet Valley School District, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania
  • Mountain Heights Academy, Utah
  • North Carolina Virtual Public School, North Carolina
  • Virtual Learning Academy Charter School, New Hampshire
  • Greater Commonwealth Virtual School, Massachusetts

Download the Virtual School Program Overviews

Virtual Learning Program Resources

These documents provide details related to inclusive technology practices including the specific needs of virtual learning programs to support students with disabilities based on the specific topic.

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