“I have always had a passion for helping and advocating for disabled people because I like to give back,” says Abraham Khoureis ’04, ’06, an adjunct professor at the University of Redlands School of Business.
This passion for advocacy motivated Khoureis to dedicate his doctoral dissertation to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design. The act states that reasonable accommodation is guaranteed for a disabled person to have equal access to any venue, place, service, and education learning environments. Published in 2010, the Standards for Accessible Design extended this law to websites, requiring online spaces to be accessible for those who are hearing or visually impaired.
With the help of assistive technology, Khoureis says, the virtual world is becoming more accessible for everyone. Assistive technology is the group of equipment and computer systems that improves the function of a website for people with disabilities. These technologies, such as screen readers, interactive chat windows, and voiceover functions in web browsers, make it easier for those with disabilities to browse the web.
Despite the availability of this technology and the Standards for Accessible Design, many companies have yet to adapt their websites to meet accessibility standards. “Expense is a factor,” he says, “but businesses and institutions have to commit to helping people with disabilities. They have to be a priority.”
In his doctoral research, Khoureis addressed the question of how the ADA impacts disabled students who are enrolled in online learning environments. “I wanted to discover how I could help these disabled students in the online environment,” he says. “I found that, in addition to utilizing assistive technologies, these students need professor and sometimes employer support to navigate websites and successfully obtain their degrees.”
Khoureis encourages businesses and other institutions to prioritize online accessibility in the same way they do physical accessibility. “If a building has a wheelchair accessible ramp, [more] people will be able to access that building,” he says. “Online accessibility works the same way—it allows disabled people to have access and to succeed.”
Khoureis teaches a course on organizational behaviors at the University of Redlands, Burbank campus, and is working on a book about accessibility titled Reasonable Accommodation. Learn more about Abraham Khoureis.