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Strategic tool for students with disabilities: Creating and implementing virtual learning environments without barriers

While some organizations have made strides in employing workers with disabilities as an act of social responsibility, other entities have started to realize the need and value of this untapped human resource (Thakker, 1997). Research has shown that employees with disabilities have low turnover rates, low absenteeism, and high motivation to prove themselves (Fersh & Thomas, 1993). Executives will need to rethink their employment practices in order to compete for employees from the current, shrinking workforce. Further, many employers are looking towards academic institutions for well-qualified employees. The key question here is whether or not our academic institutions and educators are truly prepared to enable, education, and motivate all learners for the changes in the workforce. Specifically, are we able to equip all learners with the necessary technological skills and education to best prepare them for this new workforce outlook? Currently, 54 million Americans with disabilities use information technology (IT) at colleges and universities, which accounts for 20 percent of the population (Oblinger & Ruby, 2004). Unfortunately, statistical data for persons with disabilities is done with a separate survey, which is a part from the U.S. Survey and conducted only every 10 years.