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Episode 40

Techquity: Balancing Innovation and Inclusion in Digital Learning

Brief description of the episode

Christine Fox, Project Director at CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology) discusses “Techquity” and the challenges in making digital content and technology more accessible in education. She highlights the work of CAST and the Center on Inclusive Technology and Education Systems (CITES) in promoting accessible educational materials and assistive technologies to school districts.


Key Takeaways:

  • Many educational technology and IT leaders lack awareness of available assistive technologies and their benefits for all students.
  • Educational institutions might have limited awareness of assistive technology experts available within their district or regional service agencies to support implementation.
  • While funding is often seen as a barrier, leaders may not understand that some devices they purchase already have embedded accessibility features.
  • Districts should take proactive steps to provide educators with training on implementing these tools, making them more accessible and inclusive.
  • Digital educational content has progressed significantly, moving beyond static PDFs to dynamic and interactive formats that enhance overall learning.
  • Students now have access to features like text highlighting, vocabulary banks, and on-the-fly word lookup in digital content, mirroring analog tools in a digital space.
  • Platforms like Canvas enable content centralization, simplifying access and reference for students.
  • There is growing awareness of accessibility in digital content, including alt text for images, heading structures, font choices, and color contrast which are critical for users of assistive technologies.
  • Digital content accessibility benefits a wider range of learners including those with or without Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).
  • The CITES framework encompasses six key areas: leadership, infrastructure, teaching, learning, assessment, and family engagement, each with specific practices and action steps.
  • Self-assessment tools via rubrics, are available for leadership, teaching, and learning within the framework, aiding district leaders in evaluating their progress and objectives.
  • Educational resources, including explanatory videos on inclusive technology and professional learning kits, are available offering customization options for district leaders to meet their specific school and district needs.
  • Content within the CITES framework is not only free but also openly licensed allowing educators and districts to reuse, remix, and adapt the content.

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