Leadership Exchange
at ISTELive 21
Creative Constructor
Lab Virtual
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

A-11-Why? Making Accessibility a Priority

Participate and share

Participate and share : Interactive lecture

Sunday, June 23, 10:00–11:00 am
Location: 122A

Cynthia Curry   Mindy Johnson   Lynn McCormack   Dr. Luis Perez  
Hundreds of exhibitors. Thousands of technologies. Tens of thousands of educational professionals with a passion for learning powered by technology. But are we creating unintentional barriers in the technology choices we make? Find out the things to look for and questions to ask to ensure that we include all learners.

Audience: Teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators, Library media specialists
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Online tools, apps and resources
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
  • Advocate for equitable access to educational technology, digital content and learning opportunities to meet the diverse needs of all students.
  • Model for colleagues the identification, exploration, evaluation, curation and adoption of new digital resources and tools for learning.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Educators today are faced with unprecedented opportunity and unprecedented challenge; as educational technologies are becoming more ubiquitous and the traditional face-to-face classroom is being transformed by blended and fully digital learning environments, we are also challenged with equitable access to these technologies, both in terms of access to resources and accessibility within the technology we choose. We are each responsible for every single learner who enters our learning environment, regardless of the variability that each learner brings, and including learner abilities and disabilities. That means we must ensure the tools we use are accessible. But how do we know if a technology is accessible? What does accessibility mean, and how do we know what to look for?

Access is a complex concept, and the word has multiple meanings in education. If we say that a learner doesn’t have access to a particular technology, it could mean that the learner doesn’t have a device to use, or it could mean that the learner doesn’t have broadband internet available outside the classroom, or it could mean that some other barrier exists that prevents that learner from interacting with the technology. In this interactive session, participants will explore what accessibility means and why it’s important, and we’ll make finding accessibility information less overwhelming. You don’t have to be an expert to ask informed questions.

Throughout our time together, we’ll explore:
* What are the top three things every educator should know about accessibility?
* How do I ask a vendor about the accessibility of their technology?
What questions should I ask to find out more about a technology’s accessibility?
* What are some resources I can take back with me to help other educators learn more about accessibility?

We have a tremendous amount of power and voice at the ISTE Conference & Expo. Armed with the knowledge of things to look for and questions to ask, our voices can raise awareness to the issue of accessibility in educational technologies. Accessibility is not about perfection. It’s about effort toward improvement. Awareness that accessibility is an essential part of our pedagogical and technological decision-making is a first step forward. By showing that accessibility is important to us, we shed light on a marginalized issue whose time in the spotlight has come. Our present and future learners are depending on us.

Participants will be able to:
* Describe why accessibility is an important concept to consider when bringing new technologies into any learning environment
* Contribute to the wider conversation around digital equity by including issues of accessibility
* Identify features to look for and questions to ask to find out if accessibility was considered in the design and creation of a particular technology
* Feel empowered to make informed decisions about bringing new technologies into a learning environment that have the potential to be used by any learner


* What is accessibility and why is it important? (10 mins)
- Presentation with interactive polls
* Is it accessible? How do you know? (15 mins)
- Presentation with interactive polls
* Try it! (20 mins)
- Fully interactive, live action challenge where participants will practice finding evidence of accessibility considerations in technologies
* Feedback and questions (15 mins)
- Gathered via in-person communication and virtual backchannel during and after the session

Supporting research

Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education (December 6, 2011). Report of the Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities. Washington, DC, Advisory Commission on AIM in Postsecondary Education. Retrieved September, 2017 from http://aem.cast.org/about/publications/2011/postsecondary-advisory-commission-report.html

Curry, C. (2016, Summer). SED 687 Accessible Apps Catalog Product Descriptor and Student Collections. Unpublished, Master of Education in Instructional Technology, UMaineOnline.

Curry, C., Carl, D., & Pérez, P. (2018). Procuring accessible digital materials and technologies for teaching and learning: The what, why, who, and how. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessible Educational Materials. Retrieved September 27, 2018 from http://aem.cast.org/about/publications/2018/procuring-digital-what-why-who-how.html

Hashey, A.I., & Stahl, S. (2014). Making online learning accessible for students with disabilities. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 46(5), 70-78. DOI: 10.1177/0040059914528329

Jackson, R. (2004). Technologies supporting curriculum access for students with disabilities. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum. (Links updated 2009). Retrieved September, 2017 from http://aem.cast.org/about/publications/2004/ncac-curriculum-access-technologies-supporting.html

Jackson, R.M. & Karger, J. (2015). Audio-supported reading and students with learning disabilities. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessible Educational Materials. Retrieved September, 2017 from http://aem.cast.org/about/publications/2015/audio-supported-reading-learning-disabilities-asr-ld.html

National Center on Accessible Educational Materials for Learning (AEM Center). http://aem.cast.org

PACER Center & National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials. (2010). Accessible instructional materials (AIM) basics for families. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials. Retrieved September, 2017 from http://aem.cast.org/about/publications/2010/aim-basics-families.html

Rose, D. H., Meyer, A., & Hitchcock, C. (2005). The Universally Designed Classroom: Accessible Curriculum and Digital Technologies. Harvard Education Press. 8 Story Street First Floor, Cambridge, MA 02138.

Thompson, T. (2015). How to evaluate technology for accessibility [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved September, 2017 from https://www.ahead.org/conf/2015/2015%20Handouts/Con%203/3.6/AHEAD2015-EvaluatingIT.ppt

Vox Product Accessibility Guidelines. http://accessibility.voxmedia.com/

W3C: Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). https://www.w3.org/WAI/
WebAIM: Web Accessibility In Mind. https://webaim.org/

More [+]


Lynn McCormack, CAST

As an experienced Software Engineer, Lynn McCormack has spent the last eight years at CAST developing applications that embrace UDL and exemplify accessibility. Lynn is a certified High School Math teacher and has taught at the Middle, High School and Post Secondary level. Currently, Lynn is the Senior Technologist for the National Center for Accessible Educational Materials as well as the Center on Inclusive Software for Learning.

Dr. Luis Perez, National AEM Center, CAST

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