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Accessibility for all #WomenEdTech

Accessibility for all  #WomenEdTech

By Sammy White @WhatTheTrigMath

"All technology is assistive technology."

Carol Allen's words are ringing in my ears from this #EdTech Show from last year hosted by Bukky Yusuf. 

All technology assists us, makes things easier, that's why we use it. 

Some technology, though, is essential for some users. For example, text to speech software is essential to some. Yet text to speech is also useful for many. Text to speech, on whatever platform you are using, is probably built in, it's probably built into most websites you visit too (look for the icons offering accessibility as you hover). 

For people with slow processing speed, low reading ages, visual impairment, and a variety of other additional needs, text to speech is essential. Yet it can be useful for many too. For proofreading an email or a document; does it make sense when it is read back aloud to the author? Are you following a recipe and would it be easier to hear it as you navigate the pasta machine?

By bringing tools in we not only include those students who may have different experiences to others; we can also create strong authentic learning experiences for many. 

Collecting group work summaries in a voice note gives the group an opportunity to consolidate their position before submission and clarify their conclusions. This promotes critical thinking, communication and of course collaboration. But in using a voice note, those who may find writing ideas more of a challenge than others are included. 

Handing out 8 coloured overlays in class to different students creates a different learning experience to handing out devices to students and those who need an overlay turning it on or bringing it up with their roaming settings. 

Student independence with technology is a key factor also.

We don't know the best time for students to access adaptations or software to help. By including technology in our lesson activities, we can create opportunities for those students using assistive technology to be included and to be independent. Technology exists to make our lives easier, to assist us and we can bring it into our classrooms to create inclusive spaces.

But where to start is always the question, how do I know what is good? 

We have a strong #EdTech community on many social platforms and #WomenEd have a new group #WomenEdTech on LinkedIn too (come on over!). 

Websites, like Common Sense Education, which have user reviews of apps and websites, are helpful. 

UK-based website Includedu is a repository of assistive technology apps and websites that have teacher provided reviews, how the listed technology supported their students with additional needs in their classroom. Community websites like this are powerful to grab information from but they are also a place to lend your voice.

What is your top tip for using technology in the classroom to support those facing additional challenges?

I would love to know your thoughts.

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Sunday, 29 January 2023

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