How to support someone with special needs in eLearning - World Continuing Education Alliance | LMS

How to support someone with special needs in eLearning

How to support someone with special needs in eLearning

The education sector made dramatic shifts to eLearning platforms as a result of the pandemic, and students were impacted in different ways. In 2020, around 98 percent of corporate education was estimated to occur online, and 98 percent of universities migrated classes to digital platforms. eLearning can offer excellent opportunities for all types of learners and offers flexibility for students with special needs to thrive as well.

Here are a few tips for fostering active participation and creating a flexible learning environment for students with special needs.

Assisting students with ADD or ADHD

Learners with ADD or ADHD may find certain aspects of eLearning challenging or distracting. If online activities require them to work in noisy or over-stimulating environments like chat rooms, they may lose focus quickly. A great way to support these students is to provide downloadable materials they can complete on their own time. They can engage with these activities offline and then join in for other parts of the class.

Helping ESL learners thrive

ESL learners have the added challenge of navigating eLearning environments in their second language. This is especially true for programs that support students all over the world. You can translate course material to facilitate their studies in whichever language they learn best. Some learning management systems also offer geolocation features to pinpoint a student’s location and adapt the course’s language accordingly.

Supporting the visually impaired

Students with any amount of vision loss may be unable to engage with visual elements of your eLearning environment. Pictures, graphics, and text-based slides that support your lessons may not be accessible in their original form. However, these students can still benefit from visual elements if you add in audio descriptions or narration. Ensure these descriptions are clear and easy to understand to support your students’ studies.

Assisting students with hearing impairments

Your Deaf or hearing-impaired students may not be able to access the audio components of online courses. When sharing videos, podcasts, or other audio input, you will want to ensure there are captions to create an inclusive environment for these learners. You can also share transcripts so students can follow along with visual support, adapting lessons to their needs with ease.

Individuals with other special needs

Your students should feel like a part of the group from day one of your class, no matter their circumstances. The great thing about eLearning is that it is possible to adapt your approach to all sorts of different needs to create an environment set up for everyone’s success. Start by assessing your course and the types of content you’ll be sharing and work directly with individual students to adapt the material to their unique needs.


If you’re wondering how you can support someone with special needs in an eLearning environment, there are plenty of tools, resources, and strategies out there to help. Take advantage of the tips and ideas from this list to begin creating a more accessible learning environment for your students today.

Join the WCEA community to access our learning management system and content library and to create programs that are inclusive for all learners.

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