Schools must ensure tech meets needs across range of disabilities
- People who design ed tech tools are not the same people who use them, and while some ed tech developers do test these tools in classroom settings, this can add expenses to the process, according to The Hechinger Report.
- It's important, however, that these tools reflect a universal design process, meaning they can be used by the widest group of children possible, taking into account visual or hearing needs as well as motor and physical challenges.
- Public schools must also pay attention to accessibility in the design of their web sites and any online content used.
Educational technology is so woven into curriculum today, it’s almost impossible to imagine teaching children without it. Would educators pull pencils and erasers from classrooms? Of course not. And nor would they pull computers and other educational tools like tablets.
Yet not all tools, digital or physical, are accessible to all students. Administrators do have a responsibility to ensure students have access to learning, and in a way that addresses and takes into account their particular needs. It’s also the law, primarily through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which requires children with disabilities to be supported through the educational system. At the very least, this makes failure to account for these needs a lawsuit waiting to happen.
Ed tech tools that support more accessible learning opportunities for students include video with subtitles, and platforms with text to speech tools or graphics in color combinations that work for those with visual impairments like color blindness.
While administrators need to ensure all students have the doors open to learning, ed tech vendors who work with districts and schools must also constantly develop tools that can address any need a child may have. As buyers, schools and districts are in a position to insist that these considerations be made on the front end rather than after the fact, saving both parties the hassle of having to figure out a solution after the fact.
- The Hechinger Report Designing accessible ed tech can be costly, but demand is on the rise
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