The ECAR Study of the Technology Needs of Students with Disabilities 2020, written by Dana C. Gierdowski and Joseph Galanek from Educause, presents findings on the technology needs of students with disabilities. To better understand the academic technology needs of this student population, ECAR researchers examined nearly 2,000 open-ended responses collected in 2019 student study from individuals who identified as having a physical and/or a learning disability that required accessible technologies or accommodations for their coursework.

Students with disabilities are a vulnerable population in higher education and experience barriers to education that many other students do not, and they can have both visible and invisible needs. And the emergency move to remote instruction in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the vulnerability of this population into stark relief.

In this study asked students, “What is ONE thing you would like your instructors to do with technology to enhance your academic success?” In the analysis of their responses, they identified two overarching themes, as well as prominent patterns within those themes:

  1. Online Access to Materials and Resources: class notes and slides, assignments, tests, and quizzes, recorded lectures, the LMS, and the user experience.
  2. Teaching with Technology: mobile devices in the classroom, training students and faculty in using technology, multiple methods of presenting course materials, engagement through the use of technology

Access to the full report


Gierdowski, D., and Galanek, J. (2020). ECAR Study of the Technology Needs of Students with Disabilities. Research report. Louisville, CO: ECAR.