|3d. Select, evaluate, and facilitate the use of adaptive and assistive technologies to support student learning.|
I do not know that our population of students in need of services is necessarily becoming larger but as digital resources and learning are becoming less optional in schools it is important for staff to be aware of how they can make their courses accessible. In addition, there is a recognition that the tools that help our special needs students are also useful for our general education population.
Closed captioning is an interesting case in point. It has been available for quite awhile on television and as a part of other media but you did not see it often and it was sometimes annoying if you accidentally hit the button on your remote and could not figure out how to turn it off. Now you will regularly see closed captioning on in restaurants, bars, gyms and other places that are loud or have competing programs on at the same time. You can read along with your favorite program instead of hearing it.
I did some research on accessibility and included it in an infographic I made for my blog post Helping Teachers Make Digital Learning Accessible to All. We are just starting the process of helping teachers understand accessibility when it comes to digital resources in our district. Canvas has a new feature that will let teachers check their pages for accessibility issues and it forces them to add alt-text when they add a graphic. I am teaching a class for Western Washington University this quarter on Learning with Technology and I recently taught my pre-service teachers about various tools like Immersive Reader in Office and Voice Typing in Google docs as well as tools such as Snap n Read, Co-Writer and Read & Write that help students learn. All of these tools have uses for students that do not qualify for special education services but need reading support or help with writing. Having students listen to their work read aloud to them in Immersive Reader has helped some become better editors because hearing their writing can show them errors that their brain just does not see when they are rereading.
I think that as more companies make their tools accessible teachers will come to rely on the tools to help all of their students. I think that will also make them more open to doing the extra work to make their own digitally created resources accessible when they can see how it will benefit all of their students.