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Demand for Accessible Ed Tech is on the Rise

Posted on 11/26/2018

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When we hear the term accessibility, we tend to think of making technology available to students with disabilities. However, there are a number of scenarios that can make technology inaccessible to students – for example, in addition to students with disabilities, students whose second language is English, students who do not have access to the Internet or whose access is spotty, and students in classrooms that do not have enough devices for everyone.

Part of the reason why many of these accessibility issues have not been adequately addressed is that the vendors who design ed tech products are not well-versed in the issues that teachers and students run into when they actually use the products in classrooms. Vendors typically rely on screen captures of students using the products and survey responses to gather feedback on how their products are used during class. Some vendors, however, are starting to see the value of observing teachers and students in the classroom to see the challenges and successes associated with the products. These in-person visits, though, tend to be expensive and are usually sacrificed in the name of cost efficiency.

When educators and schools demand that vendors start addressing these issues, that is when change is possible. Luiza Aguilar, the executive director of Perkins Solutions, a consulting firm on digital accessibility housed at the Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts, said that ed tech companies are increasingly integrating universal or human-centered design into their products, which schools also use to design everything from curricula to programs to customer service, which should help companies create products that address a range of accessibility issues. Organizations like Perkins Solutions also help school districts work on making their digital presence more accessible, from websites to content and documents that are used in classrooms and offices.

If you would like more information or training on how to address accessibility issues in your classroom and school, please contact OTAN at support@otan.us or call us at 916-228-2580.

Source: https://hechingerreport.org/designing-accessible-ed-tech-can-be-costly-but-demand-is-on-the-rise/ External link opens in new window or tab