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EdTech Digital Accessibility

1 July, 2021 by Moiz Yamani

a student taking notes from online class - edtech digital accessibility

EdTech Accessibility goes beyond legal requirements and providing an augmenting experience- it focuses on providing a holistic experience to students with disabilities. EdTech Industry should prioritize Digital Accessibility from the outset to improve the overall learning as well teaching experience.

The Covid-19 Twist

A total of 1.725 billion students globally had been affected by the closure of schools and higher education institutions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the UNESCO Monitoring Report, 192 countries had implemented nationwide closures, affecting about 99% of the world’s student population.

Due to Covid-19, there was a significant shift to remote learning which led to an increased number of roadblocks for students with disabilities. There were unexpected hurdles that seem to come up each day. A year and a half later, the higher education institutes are still struggling to achieve inclusive design and to make online learning accessible for all.

For this very same reason, our highly experienced team of accessibility testers at BarrierBreak provides EdTech accessibility solutions by ensuring that your digital EdTech assets are inclusive and accessible for all.

The emergence for the need of Accessibility

Title II and Title III of the American Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act oblige educational institutions to make their digital content available to students with disabilities. EdTech Accessibility is an essential prerequisite for people with disabilities and the provision of accessible content benefits all learners. In this way, the curriculum can serve students with different disabilities and students with different socio-economic backgrounds.

With 1.7 billion students in 190 countries and widespread pandemics, digital accessibility for distance learning is non-negotiable. Organizations should not discriminate against learners or deny them the right to a digital learning experience.

K-12 schools and higher education institutions must adapt to this new normal in order for students with disabilities to succeed. Given the increasing use of digital technologies, it is essential that trainers, administrators and product providers ensure that their systems, content and tools are designed and deployed in an accessible manner.

The combination of supportive technology for teachers and students using adequate accessibility can improve access to a variety of students with learning difficulties, including those with cognitive, visual, auditory, neurological and physical disabilities.

Challenges that lie ahead

Socio-economic barriers

Being from a low-income family can have a number of effects on a student’s ability to engage and understand digital materials such as online homework and digital tutorials. Students who do not have Internet access at home or who have limited devices to access the Internet are at a significant disadvantage compared to their peers. Socio-economic barriers are not only taken into account by the type of disability, but also influence students’ access to websites.

Access to digital tools

However, a fair learning environment does not mean that all students are equal with digital tools. When accessibility features are not incorporated into digital materials, it can be difficult or impossible for students to use them due to a range of physical, sensory and cognitive disabilities. Technology and educational technology can create a level playing field and bridge the gap between the environment, pupil demographics, learning styles and access to resources, but not widen it.

Access to learning materials

Reducing the number of hoops students have to jump through to gain access to learning materials can also be an advantage. Students who travel long distances to school, for example, can benefit from audio recordings of texts. Students with limited resources can avoid buying expensive textbooks if they can access content in cheaper or free alternative formats.

Designing online lessons for students with special needs takes no longer than transferring them to an online environment and using them face-to-face. The use of simple, low-cost tools such as voice-over-text capabilities and screen reader programs found on many devices can help personalize education for students with sensory or cognitive problems. The use of accessible technologies with embedded support, such as closed text, word-to-word prediction and adjustable reading levels, can also help teachers differentiate instruction and personalize it to fit the needs of each individual learner.

What’s next?

Implementing the right functions in digital learning tools and learning management systems represents a unique opportunity to create a level playing field. Many EdTech tools on the market lack advanced accessibility features to support disabled students. When translated into a digital learning tool, well-intentioned educators can disadvantage thousands of students with hearing, visual, physical and mental disabilities.

Digital learning technologies with advanced accessibility features can make it easier for disabled students to learn in more traditional classrooms at the same level as their peers. Digital learning enables leadership teams, other leaders, teachers, districts, and schools to educate, respond, and sustain education in a digital environment.

How can we support?

With more than 15 years in accessibility, BarrierBreak is the leader in offshore Digital Accessibility Testing and Consulting. Our highly experienced team of 250+ mainly comprises of disabled accessibility testers. Not only do we make sure your website is accessible, but we also ensure it is compliant with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG ). Write to sales@barrierbreak.com to help us with Edtech Accessibility.

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