How to Make Technology Accessible to Meet Students’ Needs
New technology for the classroom had been steadily increasing over the past few years, before the accelerated acquisition in response to the pandemic. “Technology is already integrated into nearly every aspect of students’ lives,” says Sheldon Horowitz, senior adviser at the National Center for Learning Disabilities. “Devices like interactive whiteboards, tablets, and a dizzying array of content sharing and curriculum enhancing tools and programs have, to varying degrees, been incorporated into ‘business as usual’ in virtually every classroom.”
Despite this uptick, however, Horowitz points to an emerging issue: “Students with disabilities and other traditionally disadvantaged students are often not considered from the outset when technologies are being developed and systems are put in place. This creates even greater inequalities and widens opportunity gaps for our most vulnerable learners.”
Teachers, administrators and CTOs must work to bridge the gap between technology availability and accessibility. For Horowitz, success in doing so requires a twofold solution.
First, schools must map the specific needs of students to assistive and instructional technologies. Next, districts must ensure that staff, students and parents “have the training and support needed to embrace the full range of benefits these technology tools have to offer,” he says.