Making Digital Learning Accessible for All Students—New Resource for Local and State Leaders

Washington, DC
Monday, November 7, 2016

A new toolkit released today gives school leaders the guidance to ensure their digital learning resources are accessible to all students and parents. 

Digital Accessibility Toolkit: What Education Leaders Need to Know will help local and state leaders take the steps to leverage digital learning while improving accessibility along the way. CoSN and the American Institutes for Research’s (AIR's) technical assistance team from the Center on Technology and Disability (CTD) produced this valuable resource. 

“Making sure students have the same capabilities to take advantage of digital learning is not only an important step—it is an essential one. The toolkit will give school leaders the information they need to meet this requirement and, in turn, improve personalized learning and educational equity in modern learning settings,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN.

“Even with the increased availability of assistive and instructional technologies, students with disabilities often encounter barriers to access content, resources, tools, and services due to poor design and technical incompatibilities. Making accessibility a reality will require strategic planning, increased collaboration, and the blending and braiding of funding streams and expertise,” said Tracy Gray, Managing Director, AIR and TA Lead, CTD. 

In giving school leaders the guidance they need, the toolkit:

  • Defines accessibility, including websites, materials, videos, digital textbooks and student or parent portals;
  • Shares why it is important today, including the opportunities and challenges to address this issue;
  • Explains how to procure accessible technology, including by informing web developers and publishers about accessibility needs;
  • Identifies the legal requirements, including accessibility guidance provided by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education; and
  • Describes the benefits of digital accessibility, including student learning and outcomes as well as the overall user experience. 

The toolkit also shares the stories of school leaders and students who have been positively impacted by accessibility efforts. In addition, supplementary infographics give school leaders the tips to get started and ensure accessibility. 

“This Toolkit provides valuable information for state and district leaders who are working to make accessibility an integral component of the teaching and learning experience in classrooms around the country,” Jacqueline Hess, Project Director, CTD, Family Health International 360.    

“School districts develop websites and other digital platforms to communicate to our communities and beyond, and every stakeholder should be able to access our information,” said Jean Tower, Director of Media and Digital Learning, Needham Public Schools in Massachusetts. “As director of technology with a prior district, we addressed a corrective action plan from the Office of Civil Rights concerning the district website over three years. It was an experience that showed the importance of making accessibility a priority. The Digital Accessibility Toolkit is what school leaders need to be out in front of this critical issue.”


To learn more and to explore the toolkit, please visit: cosn.org/accessibility.


About CoSN 
CoSN is the premier voice and resource for K-12 education technology leaders nationwide. Serving more than 11 million students in America’s school systems, CoSN provides education leaders with the tools and relationships to leverage technology and advance modern, engaging learning environments. Visit cosn.org to find out more about CoSN’s focus areas, annual conference and events, advocacy and policy, membership, and the CETL certification exam.


About CTD
The Center on Technology and Disability (CTD), operated by FHI360, is a user-centered learning and technical assistance website designed to increase the capacity of families, school systems, technical assistance providers, SEA and LEA leaders, and other key stakeholders to understand, assess, acquire, and implement appropriate assistive and instructional technology strategies and tools. CTD is administered by FHI 360, American Institutes for Research, PACER Center, and Adirondack Accessibility. Learn more: www.ctdinstitute.org


About AIR
American Institutes for Research, in partnership with FHI360 on CTD, provides technical assistance to state and district leaders to support their efforts to integrate assistive and instructional technology strategies and tools. Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education, and workforce productivity. For more information, visit www.air.org


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