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Episode 41

Inclusivity Unpacked: Addressing Current Accessibility Gaps in K12 Education

Brief description of the episode

This podcast episode features Erin Evans and Sharron Rush, the Executive Director of Knowbility. Listen in to find out how Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) ensure that every student receives personalized education that accommodates their unique needs. They discuss the importance of these frameworks and advocate for access to inclusive digital tools in a student’s educational journey. For EdTech developers, the podcast highlights the importance of creating digital tools that align with UDL principles and are compatible with assistive technologies.

Key Takeaways:

  • There are so many different tools and variations in how the services are considered delivered and recorded. It’s really hard sometimes to know if the IEP teams are actually succeeding.
  • Collaboration, standardization, and support, from either the State or the Feds, would be helpful.
  • With the technology we possess, we must have systemized ways to measure and track the implementation and progress of IEP systems. This could involve developing interoperable systems that allow data from the IEP to inform and customize the use of EdTech tools for individual students.
  • Collaboration between EdTech developers, educators, and special education professionals can help bridge the gap. This collaboration can lead to the development of tools more closely aligned with the goals set in IEPs.
  • We need to develop better mechanisms to support IEP teams and the team members so that they have more in the toolkit to choose from.
  • Schools need to have the resources and bandwidth to support IEP goals and to cater to the needs of students with disabilities.
  • Educational institutions and edtech companies can adopt strategies that incentivize and prioritize accessibility, such as acknowledging its impact on product quality.
  • Encouraging designers and developers to participate in competitions and challenges focused on accessibility can foster awareness and motivation.
  • Investors can play a role by making accessibility a criterion for funding startups and products, promoting the development of inclusive technologies.
  • Collaboration, standardization, and a shift in mindset can collectively drive the integration of accessibility into the foundation of digital products and technology.
  • Inclusivity from the Start: Begin with accessibility considerations in the initial product design phase. Prioritize creating an inclusive environment where accessibility is a core component of your product development process.
  • User-Centered Design: Engage with educators, students, and accessibility experts to gather feedback and insights on how to design user interfaces and features that cater to diverse needs and abilities.
  • Standards and Guidelines: Familiarize yourself with international accessibility standards like WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) and Section 508 in the United States. Ensure your product aligns with these guidelines to meet legal requirements and best practices.
  • Continuous Testing and Improvement: Establish an ongoing process for testing and refining your product’s accessibility features. Regularly involve individuals with disabilities in usability testing to identify and address accessibility barriers.

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