The report Engaged learning in MOOCs: a study using the UK Engagement Survey (UKES) published by the Higher Education Academy found that learners on two MOOC at The University of Southampton reported a higher proportion of students declaring a disability than national averages for higher education. This supports the idea that open education may be more accessible for students with disability. From p.22 of the report:
The generic survey reflects a lower proportion than the UKES of participants describing themselves as disabled. The latter reflects both the UK norm (16%)23 and the European average of one-sixth of working age people. Given that 20% of UKES participants are over 65 years of age, when disability increases to 45% of the UK population, this overall proportion seems low. Dyslexia alone is estimated to affect 10% of the population. However compared with disabled students in higher education, the proportions are relatively high. HESA (2013) found only 7% of students to be in receipt of disabled students’ allowance (DSA). Many disabled students do not register for or qualify for DSA, but even in terms of self-reporting only 8% report a disability on application.
However, this should be tempered by the fact that “the demographic profiles of learners resemble other MOOC cohorts; that is, an older and well-educated majority, with many working in education” (p.41).