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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 27, 2020   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Commentary: Online learning is not equitable for everyone

The switch to remote learning was sudden and something we are still adjusting to. The transition to remote learning especially affects those with disabilities. Every aspect of online learning is not equitable for those that may need certain accommodations. 

For example, Zoom does not have closedcaptioning available, so those who are hard of hearing cannot pick up on everything that is being said in class. Recorded lectures, however, do have transcripts available for students, but not all professors record their lectures. 

Ultimately, DEAR@IC believes that Ithaca College has made a safe decision to be remote for Fall 2020. Students, faculty and staff who have chronic illnesses and/or weakened immune systems are not safe on campus.

Acknowledging this, we still cannot deny the struggles many are experiencing with online classes. Staring at a screen for hours at a time has a toll on the body and mind. Too much screen time can cause headaches, nausea and insomnia, symptoms that already affect many chronically ill students and faculty. Exposure to an aboveaverage amount of screen time can trigger or worsen the symptoms and illnesses some may already be facing. It is also important to understand that those symptoms also affect those who do not have disabilities. 

As a club, we are determined to help students destress and discuss selfcare and what it means to be an effective ally to those of different backgrounds than our own. We want to acknowledge that you do not need a diagnosed disability or illness to get accommodations. If there is something in the classroom that is preventing you from succeeding, do not hesitate to reach out to your professors, Student Accessibility Services (sas@ithaca.edu) or us (dearic@ithaca.edu). We will help start the conversation with the right people and guide you through the process.

Empathy at this time is so important — even small gestures can go a long way. Members of DEAR@IC, as well as others in the Ithaca College community, have received accommodations such as extended due dates on assignments, extended absences and extra time on tests, all of which have greatly helped online learning. It is more important now than ever to be an ally to your friends and peers. Take care of yourselves and each other and remember that everyone is affected differently by these unprecedented times.