Updated as of December 26, 2023.
College is a great time for learning, and there is SO much to learn and explore. There are also quite a few “introductory” level courses you must take, and they often account for one or two of your four years in college.
But you can also earn credits for those introductory courses while still in high school– more opportunity for electives, the option to take more classes in your major, and reducing your course load for the first semester or two so that you have time to get disability services in place.
Drawing on her personal experiences, Bridges Project Coordinator Hindley Williams shares that it can be REALLY good to take a lower load (minimum is typically 12 credits) the first semester of freshman year so that you can acclimate to college, iron out disability-related accommodations, etc.
Modern States advertises “Freshman Year for Free,” and while the courses are completely free, you must still pay for the exam (the College Board administers both the CLEP and AP exams). Also, you’ll need to sign up in order to access the course materials. They offer a wide range of courses to prepare you for CLEP (college-level examination program) exams or AP (advanced placement) exams. CLEP exams are a really nice option for students because you can take them anytime—you can schedule them on your timeline in contrast to AP exams that are offered on only one day of the year. Also, while AP exams usually require that you have taken an AP class with your school, CLEP has no such requirement. With the free materials From Modern States, you may study what, when, and how you want. Each course also includes quizzes and other tools to check your understanding of the materials presented. Check out the list of courses Modern States offers.
We have found the Modern States website to be accessible. We tested it with both JAWS and iOS (on an iPhone). While the computer interface is a bit easier to use, the site was quite accessible on the iPhone as well. For instruction, Modern States predominantly uses videos. While there does not appear to be audio description built in, the presenters do a pretty good job of verbalizing graphics on the videos. Additionally, the modules have a transcript of the video, the slides used in the video (though there are some undescribed graphics on those slides), and a summary of each video. While these tools are not as accessible as we’d like to see, they are a great start. You might even want to share this resource with your classroom teacher or TVI so that they can help overcome the lingering areas of inaccessibility in the course materials.
Khan Academy has many, many free resources available. Like Modern States, you must sign up for the resources, and Khan Academy offers assessments along the way so you may track your progress.
Khan Academy uses both videos and written articles for instruction, but the videos are not always audio described, and many of the articles contain graphics without alt text descriptions. While Khan Academy is taking steps to increase its accessibility to individuals who use screen reading and screen magnification software, they still have a long way to go.
Nevertheless, Khan Academy has some great resources, and many teachers use them for enrichment purposes. It’s quite reasonable for you to ask your teachers to supplement these materials with descriptions that make the content accessible for you.
Peruse the list of courses Khan Academy offers:
- Math: Pre-K – 8th grade
- Math: Get ready courses
- Math: high school & college
- Test prep
- Arts & humanities
- Reading & language arts
- Life skills
Crash Course has more than one thousand videos on a variety of topics. Crash Course topics include core content like math and social studies but also include deeper dives into additional content, like Mythology, Zoology, and Film Studies.
While the speaker is rather descriptive in his presentations, the videos do not contain audio description. Additionally, the website, itself, is not coded properly for a screen reader user (buttons are poorly labeled or unlabeled, etc.). Nevertheless, the content is upbeat and engaging, and it has gotten good reviews from blind/low vision students. Thus, it might be worth digging in despite its lack of good accessibility practices.
Contact the Bridges Helpdesk for More Information
- Our Accessible web form
- Email: Helpdesk@imagemd.org
- Text: Send to: (410) 357-1546
- Voice mail: Call (410) 357-1546, leave a voice mail message, and we will return your call
This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.