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Digital Accessibility for All Learners

The Office of Educational Technology is working to develop policies and supports that provide a platform for learners with disabilities to be a part of the conversation.

Technology is a bridge to increase access for all learners. If not integrated correctly, technology can increase barriers for learners with disabilities. As technology becomes a larger component of everyday life and learning, it is increasingly important that all technology is accessible for all learners.

In order for learners to meaningfully participate in their education, all learners must be able to access and engage with their educational materials. Digital accessibility allows for students with disabilities to meet the same outcomes as students without disabilities.

Defining Accessibility

  • Accessibility: A person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability, in an equally effective and equally integrated manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use. (Source: Joint Letter US Department of Justice and US Department of Education, June 29, 2010 & CAST)
  • Accessible Educational Technology: The hardware and software that is designed to provide all learners with access to the content in digital materials. Examples of accessible edtech include an application that allows the user to write or verbalize their responses, a mobile phone with an optional zoom display, and a PDF with high color contrast. (Source: CAST)
  • Assistive Technology (AT):  The hardware and software that is designed to address specific barriers learners with disabilities may face when they interact with their materials. Examples of AT include screen readers, adapted daily living devices (e.g., a toothbrush holder), and communication boards. (Source: CAST)
  • Universal Design for Learning (UDL): A scientifically valid framework for guiding educational practice that — (A) provides flexibility in the ways information is presented, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways students are engaged; and (B) reduces barriers in instruction, provides appropriate accommodations, supports, and challenges, and maintains high achievement expectations for all students, including students with disabilities and students who are limited English proficient. (Source:  Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008)