Assistive Technology and Accessible Instructional Materials
Kathy McWhorter is wrapping up the afternoon with a discussion about assistive technologies.
Students with disabilities in the K-12 setting have a legal right to have their curriculum delivered in an accessible format. This presentation will serve to inform educators of student rights as well as the process for obtaining Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM).
Kathy pointed out that materials we believe to be accessible may not be accessible to everyone. Kids have a right to accessible materials. Kathy coordinates the Clearinghouse for Accessible Instructional Materials. In primary school, the schools take care of the kids. In higher education, the student is responsible for themselves. Students must understand their rights. Instructors may not know if students have a disability.
If a students asks for support, we must by the law support. If possible find an alternative format for the course material. Publishers are not starting to accommodate different format. Content may be modified to address a learning issues, e.g., reading at a lower grade level. There are many different methods for formatting a book from braille to a larger format.
If students need special services, the student needs documentation. The law also provides alternative formats of copyright material. What is our mission? Are we focusing on the classrom? Are focusing on the gavel? or are we focusing on the student?
What is considered access? Kathy discusses the costs of providing access to materials. There are challenges providing materials and using accessible technologies. Are smartphones or iPhones accessible? Kathy showed a video on iPhone accessibility.
Kathy told a great story about a blind farmer who needed a GPS so he could walk down the road to get his mail. To get from building to building on his farm, he has a radio playing on a different station in each building. Here is a person who is making it work, and not feeling entitled.
Kathy showed great example of disabilities in an education setting. She showed examples of some how students interpret what is being said. They try to capture what they hear but it may not be accurate.
There are four places to find books in alternative formats:
WIND will help get a book in the format you need.
Kathy put out a number of devices out for review. She also demonstrated iPad applications that help with accessibility.
Great points! It is about focusing on the learner, and choosing the right tools to get the message across.